Competition and Collaboration
Laura Mueller with essays by Fujisawa Akane, Kobayashi Tadashi & Ellis Tinios
The prolific Utagawa school is one of the most famous lineages of print artists in the history of Japanese woodblock prints. It was founded by Utagawa Toyoharu during the second half of the eighteenth century and remained active in Edo, present-day Tokyo, throughout the nineteenth century. During this period, Utagawa-school artists dominated virtually every genre of ukiyo-e prints, or “pictures of the floating world,” including pictures of beautiful women, prints of kabuki actors, warrior prints, erotica, and landscape pictures. Colorful, technically innovative, and sometimes defiant of government regulations, these prints documented for a popular audience the pleasures of urban life, leisure, and travel. The diverse works by Utagawa Kunisada, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Utagawa Hiroshige, and others reflected the changing social, economic, and political conditions present during the closing century of the Edo period (1615-1868) and early years of the Meiji period (1868-1912).
This 232-page groundbreaking catalogue features full-color images of more than 200 prints from the renowned Van Vleck Collection of Japanese Prints at the Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin–Madison. This collection – a number of which were once part of Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal collection of Japanese prints – is particularly noteworthy for its strong holdings of landscape prints including rare designs incorporating western perspective by the school’s founder Toyoharu. The book includes explicated entries for each work, artist biographies, and five scholarly essays about Japanese print culture and the Utagawa school.