The production of the ukiyo-e prints nearly ended in the year 1912. Two different schools of printmakers emerged to govern the first half of the 20th century. One of the two prints is sosaku hanga. The sosaku hanga movement was influenced by the European ideas and that the artist is the central of the printing process (“Japanese Woodblock Prints”).
| |By Hokusai-Image credited to and permission granted by Jim Breen
The sosaku hanga movement had adopted the concept of Western ideal of art as the creativity of a genius. The soskau hanga prints were products of the westernization of Japan, which was set in with the Meiji period (1868-1912). Sosaku hanga was known as “creative prints”. It was a term used in the early 1909 by the printmaker Ishii Hakutei (Fiorillo). Although Shin Hanga focused on the tradition of Japan, portraying beautiful women, landscapes, etc like ukiyo-e, while sosaku hanga was more of a creative, extremely stylized, diverse, original work which were not seen before. Ishii Hakutei and Yamamoto Kanae brought the first creative print to the public (Merritt, 109). Kanae distributed his sketches of the fisherman. The significance of Kanae’s work was he used his vision and imagination of the woodblock to assemble creative prints. Kanae was trained to become an artisan in wood engineering (Merritt, 109).
The early sosaku hanga artists use the process of “reproduction prints” (fukusei hanga) was a curse and many believed that shin hanga was one such type of reproductive printmaking (Fiorillo). Artists of sosaku hanga saw printmaking as a basic and highly personal creative act. They choose the paper, prepared their own blocks, carved their designs, mixed the pigments, printed the images, and marketed the prints (Fiorillo). The work they did was a blend of the traditional Japanese and influenced by international trends of art (Fiorillo). It is also about the pictorial and graphic ways of young draftsmen (Tankaya).
By mid-1952, sosaku hanga had won critical acclaim in international competitions and popular acclaim in Tokyo (Merritt, 155). The sosaku hanga movement had hard times gaining public popularity due to the development of the two prints. The shin hanga prints were more popular than the sosaku hanga prints; however, some people were familiar with the sosaku hanga. Artists of sosaku hanga were influenced from many art movements so they were more of a diverse group, which were held together by their strong beliefs in individuality (Artelino). The personal and nature of these prints makes it difficult to group the prints into identifiable categories, which made the movement vital before and a time after the Second World War.