|Artist||Ogata Gekkô (1859-1920)|
|Dimensions||Shikishiban [~9.5 x 10 inches]|
Artists seal: Square Gekko Seal
A delicate Kacho-e scene showing a cuckoo in flight with the full moon as a backdrop.
Considered an early modernist by some critics, Ogata Gekkô, together with Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-92) and Shibata Zeshin (1807-91), was one of the most important artists of the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taïshô (1912-26) periods. Like Yoshitoshi and Zesshin, he was known for a style of printmaking that was highly innovative in both iconographical and technical terms.Born in 1859, in the district of Kyôbashi in Edo (modern Tôkyô), he was later adopted by the Ogata family. As a self-taught painter, unaffiliated to any ukiyo-e studio from which he could claim appellative allegiance, he retained their name as an artistic nom-de-plume. This lack of formal training, particularly within the rigid hierarchy of an atelier, seems to have given his work a freshness and originality lacking in many of his contemporaries' oeuvres. Free from the constriction of following the codified visuality of one school, his woodblocks are redolent of a variety of influences, including Kano Tan'yû (1602-74), Tani Bunchô (1763-1840), Maruyama Ôkyo (1733-95) and Kikuchi Yôsaï (1788-1878). Ôkyo, an artistic innovator fascinated by perspective and the presentation of reality within European art, seems to have been particularly influential figure- Gekko's work clearly demonstrating a similarly powerful interest in the techniques of Occidental art, the adoption of which facilitated his desire to extend the boundaries of traditional Japanese art. In formal terms, Gekko's work is characterised by his attempts to emulate painterly aesthetics within a woodblock idiom. This is particularly evident in the finer details of his images, which closely resemble the feathery brush strokes of his numerous paintings. While Gekko's subject matter varied considerably - ranging from kacho-e (bird and flower prints) to wildly-imaginative mythological studies - his ability to convey narrative without compromising compositional impact seems to have been derived from his journalistic work for papers such as the Asahi Shinbun. In late nineteenth-century Japan, daily and weekly newspapers and journals were springing up in every urban centre and pictorial supplements were instrumental to their popularity. The 1894-5 Sino-Japanese conflict, for example, spawned a vast number of woodblock prints. Some artists, including Gekkô, actually accompanied troops in the field, making rapid sketches which could then be quickly worked up as spectacular scenes for the Japanese and, as the United States was part-financing the war, American public. An artist increasingly feted by the establishment, Gekkô exhibited his works not only within a number of prestigious Japanese exhibitions, but also as part of the national display at various world fairs, including Chicago (1893), Paris (1900) and London (1910). He also played an important role in the development of several artists' associations, in particular Nihon Bijutsu Kyôkaï, Nihon Seinen Kaïga Kyôkaï, the Academy of Japanese art, and Bunten. During the latter years of his career, his images also started entering the collections of the Imperial house and the Crown prince.
Condition: Some surface dirt to sheet.