Saturday, September 12, 2009



Am I the only one in the world
who can look at Bijin-ga
(pictures of beautiful women)
day after day after day?

Why isn't there a market
for contemporary paintings or prints
on this subject?

(other than on the calendars
you find in auto repair shops)

Above is my all-time favorite,
(unless we include the Europeans)
but happily,
the genre did not die
in 19th Century Japan

Ito Shinsui (1898-1972)

Here's an artist
currently featured
in the Buckingham Print Gallery
at the Art Institute

How is that she feels more modern?
Is it that she's more in-your-face?

And a little less confidant about herself?

Ito Shinsui

And not quite so delicate

Ito Shinsui

This early piece is not in the Art Institute,

and it also feels
the most removed from
the Floating World
and more like a scene
of ordinary life

Ito Shinsui

This girl
feels more like a daughter
than a singsong girl.

Ito's career began at the tender age of 17,
when he engaged by a young art entrepreneur, Watanabe Shozaburo,
to design prints for the export market.

So he work was made for European and American collectors
rather than Japanese.

Would that make his work inauthentic ?
(as it would if he were an African sculptor)

Kiyokata Kaburagi (鏑木清方) 1878 –1972)

And she feels more like a wife.

This piece is
by Ito's teacher

and here's another.

More dynamic,
but not as personal
as his student

Hashiguchi Goyo (1880-1921)

And how are these girls different?

Hashiguchi Goyô

They seem more like pictures
and less like personalities.


Anonymous Bill said...

Am I the only one in the world
who can look at Bijin-ga
(pictures of beautiful women)
day after day after day?

Are you kidding? Of course you're not. Women (and men) are so beautiful that it shocks anew, over and over again.

Chris you might like this:

September 19, 2009  
Blogger chris miller said...

Thanks for the link, Bill.

Though I would use the word "weird" or "humorous" for those figures.

And I wonder whether the artist would as well.

September 19, 2009  
Blogger Bill said...

I was a high school classmate of a grandson of Chiuria Obata. I didn't realize until recently how different his world was from mine. What would it have done to my head had there been a painting of my grandmother by my grandfather that looked like this?

September 21, 2009  
Blogger chris miller said...

Now that's what I call "Binin-ga"!

Neither of my grandfathers had any interest in art (looking or making) -- but I speculate that my mother may have modeled for a life-size nude made by my father - and it hasn't warped my head at all.

Or has it?

September 21, 2009  

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