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Landscape Prints of Kawase Hasui

A Revival of Excellence

April 5, 2013 - April 5, 2013

Curated by Barry Till

Kawase Hasui is considered one of the most important Japanese landscape artists of the 20th century. Hasui could evoke Japan of the pre-war period as none other.

Two Japanese print artists, Hokusai (1760-1849) and Hiroshige (1797-1858), achieved remarkable success with their landscape images in the first half of the 19th century.  Their masterpieces would have tremendous influence around the world including on major artists like the post-Impressionists.  In the first half of the 20th century, two more print artists, Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) and Kawase Hasui (1883-1957), would revive the excellence of the woodblock landscape print.  This exhibition, with nearly 40 prints, will focus on the magnificence of the latter artist.

Hasui’s work enjoyed huge popularity, at home and abroad, from his very first print in 1918. His publisher, Watanabe Shozaburo, quickly recognized his enormous potential in the American market, which resulted in Hasui’s prints fetching high prices at auctions in New York as early as the 1920s. After the Second World War, his prints were highly desired and sought after collectible items among the American occupying forces in Japan. Hasui’s work has always been greatly appreciated in Japan.  In 1953 the Japanese government’s Committee for the Preservation of Intangible Cultural Treasures honoured Hasui with the status of National Living Treasure.  

In his forty years as a print artist he traveled the length and breadth of Japan to record for posterity the wonders of its scenery.  He portrayed its broad vistas and narrow alleys, its castles and temples, but also its farmers’ huts. Hasui produced exceptional prints depicting moonlight, rain, snow, rising & setting sun, the waters of ocean & river, rocks, mist, and mountains. 

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