Shin-hanga is a Japanese print of the twentieth century made by the traditional system, centered on the publisher who commissioned designs from artists, then employed professional carvers and printers to make fine prints (Brown, 9). Shin-hanga was a kind of renaissance of the traditional style of Japanese (ukiyo-e auction). Shin-hanga means new prints in Japanese. This type of prints lasted for 6 years, from 1910 until 1920. The driving force was not a group of artists, but a print publisher, Watanabe Shozaburo, exported the largest part of shin-hanga prints to Europe and America in the 1920s and 1930s (ukiyo-e auction).
The shin-hanga movement was more traditional following the ukiyo-e tradition (Japanese art). It was cooperated with Western elements, like the effects of light and shadow, and the Western perspective into classical Ukiyo-e themes like landscapes, beautiful women, actors and nature prints (ukiyo-e auction). It used much of Western perspective and woodblock prints publisher worked as much more closer with the artists, creating a prints which is more accurately resembles the artist’s original intent (taisho). This movement is different because it is focused on the limiting members of prints produced (taisho).
The man who started these prints was Watanabe Shozaburo. He coined shin-hanga in 1915 to sought artists to collaborate with his carvers and printers in the creation that combine modern design with high level of craftsmanship (Brown, 11). Watanabe started his career as a youth in the branch office of the export company of Kobayashi Bunshichi (Merritt, 43). It was an excellent job for him because it gave him an opportunity to learn the exporting of prints. After having enough of experience, Watanabe decided to produce his own production. His earliest production included small fukusei version of ukiyo-e by a carver named Chikamatsu and a printer named Ono (Merritt, 43). In 1908 Watanabe married Chiyo, one of the daughters belonged to Chikamatsu. Watanabe wants to make new prints for Europeans whom he believed would esteem new prints with the ukyio-e spirit (Merritt, 43).
| |By Hokusai-Image credited to and permission granted by Jim Breen
Watanabe worked with many artists throughout his life in creating these prints; however, some artists were not approved of having him in charge of the production. Watanabe died in 1962. After his death, his business was taken over by his son Watanabe Tadasa.
Images of women were portrayed in shin-hanga contrast with the changing situation of women from 1910s through 1940s. Women were important portraying in pictures because of a contemporary fiction, a popular story, The Operating Room by Izumi Kyoka. It tells of a woman and a surgeon who they fall in love at a glance, but never meet again until nine years later when he was going to operate her. After married to a noble, she was afraid she might reveal her love under anesthesia. She refuses the ether and then grab onto the doctor’s hand, plunging his scalpel into her breast.
The Shin-hanga movement was an interesting mix of traditional Japanese woodblock printing methods and artwork by contemporary artists (taisho). Watanabe’s success was due in part to his keen eyes and understanding of the shin-hanga process (Merritt, 68). Watanabe worked through others to commit their vision into realities. The role of traditional women in the search for national identity dominated views of women in the generation immediately preceding and created stately, reserved images of women drawn from life (Brown, 20).