Kakunen Tsuruoka, 1892-1977
Golden Gate Bridge Process Set
(Kiri no kinmonkyou)
accordion album with twenty-nine printed sheets; the shibori patterned front and back cover with printed title slip, Process of Wood-Cut Printing (Mokuhan kakijun jozuri); the artist's signature Kakunen in kanji from the fifth example onward and square artist's seal Kakunen on the last two examples, the final print signed and dated in pencil, Kakunen Tsuruoka 1937 with red family seal Tsuruoka, assembled by the publishing house of Watanabe, ca. 1937
oban yoko-e album 10 1/8 by 15 1/8 in., 25.6 by 38.4 cm
Opening the album from right to left the first page shows the keyblock proof alone, followed by fourteen double page spreads showing the progression of applied color in the printing process. The print on the right represents one 'pull' of a block of a single color or detail, the print on the left includes that element, gradually building up to the completed print on the very last leaf.
In the mid-1930s, Kakunen began collaborating with Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962, arguably the leading publisher of shin-hanga prints), to produce four woodblock prints based on his paintings. There was a fifth design of the Half Dome mountain in Yosemite that never made it beyond a test print due to the outbreak of war. Unusually, Kakunen retained the copyright on all four prints, which may represent the only time that Watanabe relinquished control to an artist, presumably because the productions was paid in full by the artist.
Progression sets from the full-sized original color blocks are extremely rare, and although the printed title slip on this album hints that perhaps more than one album was assembled, it may just as easily be a standard label that was applied to other process albums. According to family lore, Kakunen may have also had some or all of the color blocks for the print in his possession, but they appear to have been overlooked or lost.
Provenance: Tsuruoka Family Collection
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site last updated
August 5, 2020
Scholten Japanese Art
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New York, New York 10019
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