The Primitive Ukiyo-e of Okumura Masanobu

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    Okumura Masanobu (1686–1764). 'Large Perspective Picture of Evening Cool by Ryōgoku Bridge.' Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), c. 1748. Woodblock print; ink on paper with hand-applied lacquer. Gift of James A. Michener, 1991 (21630).

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    Okumura Masanobu (1686–1764). 'Poet Kakinomoto Hitomaro.' Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), late 1740s. Woodblock print; ink on paper. Gift of James A. Michener, 1959 (14509).

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February 16, 2017 - April 09, 2017
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

Okumura Masanobu (1686–1764) contributed to the development of early Japanese woodblock prints (“primitive ukiyo-e”) in intriguing ways. He has been credited as the first artist to add luminous materials, such as gold dust and mica, to the surface of hand-painted prints, and he is believed to have invented novel formats, such as the large-scale, vertical “pillar print.” While reviving public interest in the sort of ink rubbings produced in China since the early 7th century, he also experimented with Western techniques of linear perspective. The art-historical importance of this self-taught artist’s inventions is rivaled only by his massive production: from the age of twelve, he published more than 140 books and several hundred single-sheet prints. This rotation highlights some of the finest work by this pioneer of woodblock printmaking.