Japanese Prints Tell the Story of Modern Japan in Exhibition at the Ringling Museum

SARASOTA.- Selected works from the Ringling Museum’s important collection of Japanese shin hanga and sosaku hanga woodblock prints, dating from the first half of the 20th century, are presented in Tradition and Transformation: Modern Masters of the Japanese Print, through January 4, 2009 in the Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing.

“We are committed to building awareness of Asian art at the Museum,” said Dr. John Wetenhall Executive Director of the Ringling Museum. “It is our hope that the Ringling Museum of Art will be recognized not only for its strength in Baroque and Renaissance art, but also for our breadth and quality of Asian art.”

Woodblock printing is an ancient art of Japan, dating back to the Nara period (710-784). Two woodblock print movements, shin hanga and sosaku hanga, emerged during the twentieth century, each reflecting the unique range of tastes, talents and interests of Japan’s modern culture, yet echoing the traditions of their ancestors.

Artists of the shin hanga or “new prints” movement present the modern beauty of Japan and Japanese culture using the traditional collaborative methods of their ancestors. In efforts to popularize their work, these artists incorporated Western aesthetic elements into their prints.

These elements included a greater sense of perspective, color gradation and the inclusion of an expanded spectrum of subject matter indicative of modern life such as utility poles and industrial symbols.

Artists of the sosaku hanga or “creative prints” movement are less traditional than the shin hanga artists. An earthquake in 1923 destroyed Tokyo and became the catalyst for the sosaka hanga movement. Mimicking the city’s resurrection through use of concrete and steel versus traditional wooden structures, artists of the sosaku hanga movement rebuilt woodblock printing on modern terms. Using the same medium, the artists became more individualistic in their methods as well as in their subject matter, content and aesthetic qualities and representation.

Tradition and Transformation features 40 examples of shin hanga and sosaku hanga from the Ringling’s permanent collection and includes such noteworthy artists such as Kiyoshi Saito and Koshiro Onchi.


Renowned Japanese artist to teach two courses at DSU this fall

Dickinson State University will offer two unique art courses this fall thanks to the generosity of artist Eitaro Sato, who has volunteered to serve as a visiting professor of art. Sato also will supply materials for the students in the calligraphy course, including ink, brushes and rice paper.
Sato is a Japanese artist who specializes in sculpture and calligraphy. He has won numerous prizes in both venues and is highly respected in Japan as a nationally recognized sculptor of bronze. He also is the executive director of Satoe Academy, the Japanese government-authorized non-profit school corporation that administers and manages one law school, one university, two colleges, four high schools, two junior high schools and one elementary school. All of Sato’s schools are located in or near Saitama, Japan, which is near Tokyo.

“The university is fortunate to have an artist of Mr. Sato’s caliber volunteer to teach our students,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rich Brauhn. “We appreciate his willingness to share his time and talent and look forward to his arrival on campus this fall.”

Sato will teach a calligraphy course and a clay sculpture course from Sept. 1-Oct. 31. The 1-credit courses will meet one day a week and are open to enrolled DSU students and to the general public as audit courses. The calligraphy course will be held at Hawks Point and the clay sculpture course will be held in the Art Building on South Campus. Sato will be accompanied at DSU by Professor Michio Matsui, who will act as interpreter. Matsui is a faculty member in the School of Tourism at Kobe Shukugawa Gakuin University, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan.

Matsui describes Sato, who is 81 years old, as “very disciplined,” stating that he rises each day at 4 a.m. to work on his art before going to his office to oversee his 11 schools.

Sato, Matsui and Junko Tanaka, principal at Sakae Higashi Junior-Senior High School, Saitama, Japan, visited DSU last week to explore the campus and finalize arrangements for Sato’s fall courses. During their visit, Sato gave calligraphy demonstrations to a number of people on campus. To see a photo of Sato at work, please visit http://dickinsonstate.com/images/sato.png.

Those interested in enrolling in one or both of Sato’s courses can contact the Office of Academic Records at 701-483-2331 for more information. Those wishing to audit a course will be required to pay a small fee. Some experience in sculpture is recommended for the clay sculpture course. No experience is necessary to enroll in the calligraphy course. Class sizes are limited to 15-20 students per course.