Shin Hanga Landscapes: 20th Century Japanese Prints

June 12, 2015 @ 8:39 pm – September 6, 2015 @ 9:39 pm
Art Gallery, University of St. Joseph
University of Saint Joseph
1678 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06117


The Art Gallery at University of Saint Joseph will open Shin Hanga Landscapes: 20th Century Japanese Prints with a reception on Friday, June 12 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. The reception, which is free and open to the public, will be held in advance of West Hartford’s Japan Summer Festival (Blueback Square, Saturday, June 13, 11:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.). The exhibition will remain on view through September 6.

The Japanese art movement known as shin-hanga (“new prints”) flourished in the first half of the twentieth century. Coined by print publisher Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962), the term “shin-hanga” referred to modern color woodblock prints produced in the traditional collaborative system involving print designer, carver, printer, and publisher. Athough shin-hanga prints addressed the same subject matter as 19th-century Japanese prints – including landscapes, beautiful women, and kabuki actors – they reflect Japan’s assimilation of Western art movements as well as an interest in attracting a Western audience.  Just as 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints had influenced the course of European art, increasing internationalization led 20th-century Japanese printmakers to adopt certain approaches pioneered by European artists. In shin-hanga prints this resulted in deep perspective, a focus on naturalistic light and 3-dimensional form, and subtle coloring that eschewed the use of black outlines.

The landscapes that constitute the majority of shin-hanga prints depicted views showing little evidence of the country’s modernization and therefore held considerable appeal to an audience seeking a romantic or nostalgic image of Japan. Examples in this exhibition include works by some of the most renowned artists working in the genre, foremost among them Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) and Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950).

This exhibition features recent gifts from Judith and Norman Zlotsky as well as prints donated by John Crockett.  It has been scheduled in conjunction with West Hartford’s Japan Summer Festival (Saturday, June 13).