From the Collection: Untitled (Owl and Cherry Branch)

2005-176

This Japanese woodblock print by Hirose Bihō joined the collection in 2005. Very little is known about the artist Bihō (born 1873) except that he was a designer of kachō-e, or “animal and flower pictures.” In many of his known works, he experiments with bokashi, the gradient effect in the background and on the owl’s chest. This print is signed “Bihō” at lower left and bears the artist’s seal.

image source: Untitled (Owl and Cherry Branch)

From the Collection: Traci & Steve

steve and traci

These eccentric prints by contemporary American artist Beth Van Hoesen joined the collection in 2012.  Traci (left) and Steve (right)  are the only two compositions that Beth Van Hoesen realized as prints from her series of drawings “Punks.” Van Hoesen executed these drawings in the 1980s and early ‘90s, finding her subjects in the Castro District of San Francisco, where she lived in a former firehouse.

Fellow artist Joseph Goldyne, who interviewed Van Hoesen in 2009, asserts that “Punks” represents some of her finest work. Better-known for her animal and flower subjects, Van Hoesen approached all her subjects with the same attention to differentiating details. Goldyne suggests that her interest in punks and animals was analogous: “She was fascinated by the same panoply of color in these kids as she was in the orchestrations of color she found in roosters or vultures or parrots. She seemed to love to draw things that were, in and of themselves, composed already”—like Traci with her geisha-esque makeup and hot-pink hair and Steve with his sculpted hair and prominent tattoo.

image sources: Traci / Steve

Monday Morning Muse: Unknown Courtesan

2005-211

This beautiful woodblock print of an ‘unknown courtesan’ joined the collection in 2005. The title of the series to which this print belongs is printed at upper-left in the multicolored cartouche: “A Comparison of Flowers at Night in the Cherry Blossom District.” The “Cherry Blossom District” is a reference to the Yoshiwara, Edo’s famed pleasure district and epicenter of the “Floating World,” the entrance to which was flanked by rows of cherry trees. At lower-right in the red toshidama cartouche is the artist’s signature, which reads “Toyokuni ga” (‘drawn by Toyokuni’). Immediately to the left of the signature is the mark of the woodblock carver, which reads “hori Fuji” (‘carved by Fuji’), followed in the lighter cartouche by the mark of the publisher Moriya Jihei of the firm Kinshindō. The small circular seal to the right of the toshidama cartouche at lower-right is the censor’s date seal, indicating that the print was inspected and approved in the eighth month of 1858.

image source: Unknown Courtesan, from the series “A Comparison of Flowers at Night in the Cherry Blossom District” (‘Hana kurabe kuruwa yo sakura’)