Thanks to the Library of Congress, you can browse and download high-resolution copies of more than 2,500 Japanese woodblock prints and drawings from the library’s online collection. The prints, most of which are dated before the 20th-century, were amassed from a large group of collectors, including notable donors such as President William Howard Taft and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Despite the diversity of genres and traditions represented by the library’s large collection, the most prolific works are ones created in the tradition of the Japanese art form of Ukiyo-e or Yokohama-e. Ukiyo-e was developed in the city of Edo (now Tokyo) between 1600 and 1868 during a relatively peaceful period. The subject and inspiration for many of the prints includes that of entertainment and leisure, such as scenes from kabuki theater and fashionable restaurants.
The style of Yokohama-e was built on methods of production from Ukiyo-e around the time that American naval officer Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794-1858) led an expedition to Japan in the mid-1850’s. New trade agreements between Japan and the West brought travers to the country, inspiring Japanese artists to capture tourists walking throughout the port city, and borrow images from Western newspapers.
You can see the entire collection of historic works on the Library of Congress’s website. (via Open Culture)
Eve is the newest multi-colored woodcut print from Valerie Lueth of Pittsburgh-based Tugboat Printshop (previously here and here). The limited edition print is created from layering four different blocks, each containing a separate color. Once combined, an orange and green hand is seen suspended in the cosmos, flowers and plants growing wildly from the extended limb. The print is currently available for pre-order, with an anticipated ship date of mid-June. You can learn more about the making of Eve, as well as order your own print, on Tugboat Printshop’s website.
Three years in the making, we first teased this phenomenal new woodcut print titled Overlook from Valerie Lueth and Paul Roden of Tugboat Printshop (previously) back in 2014—the carving of a single woodblock was intriguing enough to warrant its own article. After thousands of hours of preparation, drawing, carving, testing, and printing, the completed color proof was finally revealed this week.
Overlook is a color woodblock print created from 5 plates including 4 color blocks (yellow, red, light blue, dark blue) that define areas of color in the image with a 5th block (black) on top called the key block. All the woodblocks are entirely different carvings on 3/4″ birch plywood that contain different information. As each is printed in succession on handmade kozo fiber paper, the colors merge to produce additional hues, highlights, shadows, and other details of the final print. The splendidly detailed 46″ x 30″ artwork depicts a mid-day scenic view of a mountain range surrounded by dense forests, groves, and sprawling vegetation in a myriad of colors.
The final limited edition of 100 prints will be completed early next month and are currently available for pre-order on Tugboat Printshop’s website. You can see of behind-the-scenes process photos and videos of Overlook on Flickr.
A Japanese artist is placing a modern spin on a centuries-old technique, animating Japanese woodblock prints in the style typically reserved for TV show recaps and continuously looping memes. The artist, who who goes by Segawa thirty-seven, uses Adobe Photoshop and After Effects to alter the static images and inlay elements of sci-fi and modern culture—bringing in Segways and alien spaceships into the fixed landscapes-turned-gifs.
Other gifs produced by the artist are far more subtle, one in particular showing a crowded street of people lit by moonlight, their shadows traveling from the right to the left side of the screen as the moon travels through the sky. Another shows a scene of people gazing out the window as a high speed train endlessly rushes by.
You can see more of Segawa thirty-seven’s woodblock print animations on his Twitter. (via Spoon & Tamago)