What to do when you run out of wall space. Meiji era triptychs.
Rikio Takahashi specialized in depicting the forms of the Japanese garden, especially the classic gardens of Kyoto. He was the son of a ‘Nihonga’ (“Japanese-style painting”) artist and from 1949-1955 became an important pupil of the seminal figure in Japanese printmaking, Onchi Koshiro (1891-1955), whose late non-representational style had a significant influence. Takahashi studied at the California Institute of Arts in 1962 and 1963 and returned to the United States several years later to work with Ken Tyler at Tyler’s renowned Gemini print studio. (See “Collaboration with Ken Tyler,” below.)
Takahashi is one of the last true sôsaku hanga (creative print) artists. He successfully explored in an abstracted manner various forms found in gardens and nature. He is especially adept at the subtle partial overlay of one or more colors to create varied opacities and textures as well as complexity of shapes.
Many of his prints evoke an atmosphere of stillness and balance that have a sense of timelessness. Takahashi’s prints vary in size, with some reaching roughly three feet in height.
A series of 120 prints highlighting the economic activity of the various provinces of Japan by the artist Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894) published by Ohkura Magobei in 1877.
On August 21 of 1877, the first National Industrial Exposition (Naikoku Kangyō Hakurankai) opened at Ueno Park, lasting until November. The prints were likely published with this major event in mind, although there is no evidence that the prints were sold on the site of the exposition. The publisher’s bookstore in Nihonbashi was not too far from the fairground.
These pictures show industrial scenes such as harvesting natural resources, processing crafts, shipping products, etc. in certain regions or countries, and hence depicting local industry. In the history of Japanese drawings particularly for practical use, there were various genres of pictures: Meisho-e described famous places such as temples, sight-seeing spots, etc.; shokunin-e depicted various professionals and how to make things; bussan-e were like pictorial encyclopedia for products; and hakubutsu-e were of things. The Dai Nippon Bussan Zue is a combination of these genres of picture. By presenting images of most regions in Japan systematically with respective local industries, products, and working people, it suggested the variety as well as commonality of the developing nation.