The Arts of Japan

Japanese Prints During the Allied Occupation 1945-1952

Onchi Koshiro, Ernst Hacker and the First Thursday Society

Smith, LawrenceBritish Museum Publications · 2002

Details

Title
Japanese Prints During the Allied Occupation 1945-1952
Subtitle
Onchi Koshiro, Ernst Hacker and the First Thursday Society
Publication Date
2002
Language
English
Media
Print
Page Count
128
Format
Hardcover
Author
Smith, Lawrence
Publisher
British Museum Publications

Blurb

In 1945 much of urban Japan lay in ruins, the land occupied by foreign powers for the first time in the country's history. To many Japanese it seemed that everything had been lost, but in fact the nation would quickly demonstrate - and on a much larger scale than ever before - its ability to recover physically, economically and culturally from apparent disaster. In the visual arts, the years between 1945 and 1952 were a period of steady progress and considerable achievement in painting, calligraphy, prints, ceramics and other crafts.

This book examines in detail how one school of printmakers, under the leadership of Onchi Koshiro (1889-1955), survived with difficulty the Pacific War and as artists found themselves among those calling for a new search for the nation's heart in its aesthetic traditions. They also received unexpected appreciation from connoisseurs among the occupying forces and administrators. Symbolic of this process was the meeting of the American graphic artist Ernst Hacker (1917-87), posted to Tokyo in April 1946, with Onchi and his circle and with Munakata Shiko (1903-75), who was then almost unknown. Prints and archives acquired by Hacker at that time and recently given to The British Museum by his widow form the unique basis of this study.

By 1952, when the Allied Occupation ended, work by Onchi and his circle and by Munakata was eagerly collected in the United States, and these two, introduced to the world by their American admirers, are now recognized as Japan's greatest print artists of the twentieth century.

This catalogue accompanies the exhibition at the British Museum, June 20 - September 1, 2002.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
    6
  • Japan 1857–1952: A Fast-track History
    8
  • Japanese Prints During the War Years: 1937–1945
    17
  • Japanese Prints in the Early Years of the Occupation: 1945-1946
    22
  • Ernst Hacker: Earlier Life and Sojourn in Japan
    27
  • Onchi and the First Thursday Society: 1944–1950
    31
  • The Later Occupation: The Triumph and Mythologizing of Sōsaku Hanga
    37
  • Postscript
    42
  • Catalogue
    43
  • Colour plates
    65
  • Bibliography
    126