japanese prints by 3 artists from 18th century to gen Y

Let’s do a little exercise: In 10 seconds, write down as many things that are related to Japanese culture as you can think of.

Most people will have animations on their lists, as this is one of the things the Japanese does superbly. It is not hard to find this theme reflected in Japanese art. In fact, the root of animation might already be planted 300 years ago through the ukiyo-e prints. Ukiyo-e means “a picture of the floating world” and was a result of the middle-class consumers demanding for contemporary genre scenes. Ukiyo-e arts are charactered by absence of depth, clear and opaque colors. I can see the “Sudden Shower on Ohashi Bridge” by Ando Hiroshige (one of the most renown ukiyo-e artists in the Western world) as the opening scene of a Japanese animate about samurai.

Sudden Shower on Ohashi Bridge by Ando Hiroshige (1857)

Fast forwarding to 20th century. I have to mention Takashi Murakami, who is probably the most well-known Japanese modern artist in the West and was a designer for Louis Vuitton in 2003. People, including me, adore his work, mostly printed by lithography (a method for printing using a plate or stone with a completely smooth surface). His Superflat method very clearly shows the anime influence.

And then, And then, And then... variation by Takashi Murakami

And then, And then, And then... variation by Takashi Murakami

Skull Rock by Takashi Murakami

Skull Rock by Takashi Murakami

Recently I have met a young, sweet looking American born Japanese artist in the Bay Area, California. Cat Oshiro was prepping her printed illustrations for sale by consignment in a small Japanese dessert store. I was attracted to her work, which shows huge influence from Hiroshige and Murakami to the Gen Y artists.

Cupcake Ship by Catherine Oshiro

Cupcake Ship by Catherine Oshiro

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