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Maekawa Senpan

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Maekawa Senpan
20th c. Kansai Bijutsuin woodblock print
Japanese, (1888–1960)
Print artist. Maekawa was one of the great personalities of twentieth-century Japanese prints, a man of notable independence, and a political radical, yet a staunch traditionalist and supporter of Japanese folk life and customs. In his career history he was rather typical, nevertheless, of his generation in the 'Sosaku Hanga' movement, working as a cartoonist and illustrator up to the Pacific War and participating in a succession of societies, exhibitions and coterie magazines. After the War he benefited from the new-found American enthusiasm for the movement's prints and by 1953 was able to devote himself entirely to them in generally larger formats.

Maekawa was born in Kyoto, the younger brother of a minor print-artist, Asaga Manjiro (1885-1965). He studied at the Kansai Bijutsuin from 1905, at first with Asai Chu (1856-1907), and moved to Tokyo in 1911 where he began his long career as a cartoonist on the magazine 'Tokyo Puck'. In Tokyo he was inspired by Minami Kunzo (1883-1950) to take up self-carved woodblock printing, which he taught himself over a long period. He exhibited in the first Sosaku Hanga Kyokai exhibition in 1919 and was an active member of the Japanese Print Association from 1931 to 1960. He participated in many major group series, such as 'One Hundred New Views of Tokyo' (twelve prints) and 'One Hundred New Views of Japan', for part of which he was in charge of printing; and after the Pacific War in the three nostalgic portfolios (on Tokyo, folk customs and Japanese women) published by Fugaku Shuppansha. His own major collections were the portfolio 'Karuizawa' from 'Nihon fukei hanga' (1939), the five albums of 'Yokusen fu' ('Hot Springs', 1944-59) and an extended series of small woodblock books called 'Kanchu kanbon' ('Leisure Time Leisure Books', 1945-60). He exhibited first abroad at the São Paolo Biennale in 1953. He achieved Western recognition through inclusion in Statler's 'Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn' (1956) and Michener's portfolio 'The Modern Japanese Print. An Appreciation' (1962).


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