27

March

2015

2

Meiji Designs and Japanese Craft Artists

by Erin Rushing

This post was written by Reiko Yoshimura, head librarian of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Library.

As a result of the development of Japonisme in the 1860s, Japanese art and crafts became increasingly popular, especially in Europe. Following the Meiji Restoration (1868), the Japanese government began exhibiting a vast amount of art and craft objects in world expositions, namely, World’s Columbian Exposition (1893) and Paris expositions (1867, 1889, 1900), which led to actively promoting domestic craft production.

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Bijutsukai, a periodical published 1896-1911, in 65 volumes, intended to provide novel and exciting designs for textile artists, potters, and other craft makers; this in response to domestic demand as well as increasing export needs.  Bijutsukai and a few other similar publications played a pioneering role in the craft design movement during the Meiji period (1868-1912).  Each issue of Bijutsukai was wood-block printed, luxuriously, in vibrant color, on fine paper.

 

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Contributors to designs included in the journal were well-known painters such as Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942), Asai Chū (1856-1907) and Kishi Kōkei (1839-1922).  Beginning with volume 33, Bijutsukai sponsored a design contest, publishing winning designs, thereby encouraging young rising artists and contributing to a birth of new occupation, “design artist.”

 

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The publisher was Yamada Geisōdō, a commercial art book publisher in the Kyoto area, established in 1891 and continuing through today with traditional wood-block printing.  They have reprinted numerous illustrated books from the Edo period (1600-1868).

 

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We hope you enjoy these beautiful selections from Bijutsukai. For more lovely Japanese pattern inspiration, check out our digitized volumes of Shin-bijutsukai in our Digital Library.

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2 thoughts on “Meiji Designs and Japanese Craft Artists

  1. Susan Schuyler

    I have an original 1903 edition of this publication. Can you tell me of its value? I’m interested in knowing more about it.

    Reply

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