Monday, May 15, 2006

A.I.C. : Utamaro

The Buckingham gallery of Japanese prints changes its display about every 6 weeks -- and about once every 10 years -- it's all Utamaro.

I worship Utamaro -- he's the Titian/Michelangelo/Botticelli of this genre -- and I think it's only custom that puts his prints (instead of European paintings) on rotating, instead of permanent, display.

He just seems to be a few steps ahead of everyone else -- in drama -- in power -- in range -- in arrangements that seem new-clever-exceptional -- the way a top athlete stands above his accomplished peers -- always innovating -- always pushing himself -- and I notice by the dates posted beside each print, that he kept getting better -- with the most exciting things done in the last five years of his life (he lived to the age of 50)

This was my favorite in the show (although it must be noted that the museum owns many more not on display -- and I remember some that I liked just as much. "A sweet disorder in the dress, kindles in clothes a wantoness"

Here's a detail of the smoke that beautiful, young, partially undressed lady is blowing -- printed not with ink -- but just with the impression of the wood block.

Here's one that the guard helpfully suggested was an inspiration for Van Gogh (with the strong floral pattern in the background) Maybe she was right -- if I were a young painter who had never seen an Utamaro before -- I think I'd start lifting ideas too.

(This jpg badly fails, by the way, to give the effect of the patterns in this design.)


Blogger Gawain said...

there was a very interesting article by melikian in the IHT (the link to melikian is on my blog) about the rel. between Jap-ese art and expressionists. he wonders what would have happened if the expressinists had had the chance to see the really GOOD Japanese art. :) i recommend the article, its quite interesting and well written.

BTW, i noticed you are paying attention to textile patterns now? :)

May 16, 2006  

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