I have long admired Japanese wood block prints and was delighted to see the new book Hiroshige by Matthi Forrer. Hiroshige was a master of the art form and best known for his poetic and atmospheric landscape images.
The Japanese printmakers were very much commercial artists. They promoted famous views of the city, fashionable people and cultural icons such as the images of Kabuki theatre actors by printmaker Shakuru.
Hiroshige was incredibly inventive at breathing new life into familiar images of famous locations in Edo. As Forrer tells it, this was all the more remarkable because the images were expected to contain obligatory features like snow, moonlight, evening light and cherry blossoms.
Adding human figures to the scene created a buzz about what the people might be doing there and whom it might be.
Forrer is Curator of the Japanese Department at the National Museum of Ethnology in the Netherlands. He is also author of Hokusai: Prints and Drawings (2009).
Japanese prints became very fashionable in the West and influenced artists like Monet who hung them in his famous dining room at Giverny.
And that is where my next blog goes.