Koka (Toyonari)

Yamamura Koka (Toyonari)


Night of Celebration [Fireworks]
(Hoshuku no yoru)

signed Toyonari ga in lower right corner (almost imperceptibly in the area of the dark bokashi), with rectangular artist's red approval seal, Toyonari, in the margin, self-published with the support of the Yamamura Koka Hanga kankokai (Publication Society of Yamamura Koka's prints), 1924

oban tate-e 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 in., 39.5 by 26.7 cm

After self-publishing a series of twelve kabuki actor portraits known popularly as the Flowers of the Theatrical World (Rien no hanna) with Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962) over a two-year period from 1920 to 1922, Toyonari branched out and began to produce prints illustrating a variety of subjects other than kabuki portraits while exploring more stylization of his compositions. The prints were published with the help of his patrons who formed the Publication Society of Yamamura Koka's Prints (Yamamura Koka Hanga Kanokokai) and likely issued in modest numbers as the post-earthquake prints seem to be more rare than the pre-earthquake prints published with Watanabe. Only six out of the ten prints from the 1924 group were included in the 1930 landmark shin-hanga exhibition in Toledo of which Watanabe was the principal organizer, and this stunning print is extremely scarce.

Perhaps in an effort to embrace the sosaku-hanga (creative print) aesthetic that emphasized the artists as the carver and printer, the ten prints explored great abstraction and bold colorization. However, for production purposes Toyonari ultimately concluded that he preferred the collaborative opportunities inherent in of the shin-hanga process that utilized professional carvers and printers. He asserted in an article in the magazine Chuo Bijutsu (Central Art) in 1925:

Even I at one time tried to "self-draw, self-carve and self-print," but I recognized that the technique was crude, and these days I have stopped doing this altogether...in order to create Shin-hanga I meet with artisans and while talking it through with block-cutters and printers, I rely on their technique and work diligently with them to produce prints." (Marks, p. 72)

Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, 2015, pp. 65-73 (artist's bio), and Yamamura Koka (Toyonari) Exhibition History, p. 211
Carnegie Museum of Art, accession no. 89.28.1413

(inv. no. C-3224)

price: Sold


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