NEW YORK – Works by two Western living artists, two by American Mary Brodbeck and three by Scottish artist Paul Binnie, are featured in a Japanese woodblock prints auction that will be conducted by Jasper52 on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
Mary Brodbeck (b.1958) was born and lives in Michigan in 1958. She graduated from Michigan State University with a BFA in Industrial design in 1982, and worked as an Industrial Designer in the West Michigan furniture industry for a dozen years – many of her designs hold U.S. patents – before shifting to image making in the 1990s. She studied Japanese woodblock printmaking in Tokyo with Yoshisuke Funasaka on a fellowship in 1998 and obtained her MFA from Western Michigan University in 1999. Her landscape woodblock prints have received critical acclaim in both Japan and the United States. Her “Autumn, Sleeping Bear Dunes” series, created 2006-2008, is in the permanent collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Paul Binnie (b.1967) is a Scottish artist specializing in Japanese woodblock printing. His work is reflective of the shin-hanga artists of the early to mid-20th century, employing subjects such as landscapes, tattoos and beautiful Japanese women.
Binnie studied art history at Edinburgh University and painting and etching at Edinburgh College of Art from 1985 to 1990. After taking his master’s degree in 1990 he moved to Paris until his interest in Japanese ukiyo-e prints took him to Japan in 1993. There he studied woodblock printmaking as an apprentice to master printer Seki Kenji.
An antique Japanese woodblock print with ties to the United States is a triptych titled American Consul Observes Japanese Navy Air Balloons. The center print pictures women in Western dress watching hot air balloon aloft. Waving from a nearby flagpole is a large U.S. flag. Yoshitora Utagawa created the trio of prints in 1867. Each measures about 10 by 15 inches.
In addition to Binnie’s Cat Feathers, felines are also featured in Kuniyoshi Utagawa’s Cats of the Tokaido Road. This Showa era (1926-1989) edition oban triptych was printed from recarved woodblocks. Each panel measures 11 by 16 inches; 33 by 16 inches overall.
Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) was born in Edo (present-day Tokyo). He joined the Utagawa School of ukiyo-e artists, then headed by Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825). In 1814, Kuniyoshi ended his apprenticeship and set out as an independent artist. He initially produced actor prints in the style of his teacher, which gained him little recognition. Kuniyoshi achieved a commercial and artistic breakthrough in 1827 with the first six designs of the series, “The 108 Heroes of the Suikoden.” The series was based upon a 14th-century Chinese novel about the adventures of a band of 108 honorable bandits and rebels. Kuniyoshi had a special fondness for cats, which overran his studio and are portrayed in many of his prints.
Classic scenes in the auction include Katsushika Hokusai’s Mt. Fuji Beyond the Waves and Toshi Yoshida’s Myoko Hot Spring. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was a Japanese master artist and printmaker of the ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) school. His early works represent the full spectrum of ukiyo’e art, including single-sheet prints of landscapes and actors, hand paintings and surimono (printed things), such as greetings and announcements. Later he concentrated on the classical themes of the samurai and Chinese subjects. His famous print series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji,” published between 1826 and 1833, marked the summit in the history of the Japanese landscape print.
Toshi Yoshida (1911-1995) was a Japanese printmaking artist associated with sōsaku-hanga movement, which stressed the artist as the sole creator motivated by a desire for self-expression. His Myoko Hot Spring was originally published in 1955. The work in the Jasper62 was printed posthumously.
With this array of 133 Japanese woodblock prints, discover why Japanese printmakers impacted the development of modern art. Featuring names like Hokusai and Hiroshige, this sale reveals nuanced techniques and traditional Japanese values. Whether capturing the serenity of a temple or a moonlit ocean, these images exemplify both fine art and elegant decoration.
The Jasper62 Japanese woodblock prints auction will be held Tuesday, Feb. 12, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern time.