Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kuniyoshi Review!

"The seeds of manga and anime can be seen everywhere in the ukiyo-e prints of Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), whose eye for the fantastic and the ghoulish remains unmatched. The Japanese artist, who produced thousands of prints, was so creative that even censorship became a source of inspiration. One law on the books forbade publishing images of Japanese warriors who lived after 1573; Kuniyoshi responded—and made a name for himself—with portraits of ancient Chinese warriors brandishing full-body tattoos (a Samurai practice). Another ordinance, which outlawed pictures of courtesans and geishas, spurred Kuniyoshi to create the series “Biographies of Wise Women and Virtuous Wives,” in which comely maids engage in absurdly arduous tasks, like relocating a boulder. A room of kyoga (literally “crazy pictures”) includes such hallucinogenic compositions as a brothel populated by sparrows and portraits of a man and a woman whose heads are composed—à la Giuseppe Arcimboldo—of bodies."

-The New Yorker

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