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
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’)
This whimsical print by British caricaturist and illustrator George Cruikshank feels apropos today, since it’s currently raining cats and dogs (and pitchforks) here in Amherst.
This print is aptly titled Very Unpleasant Weather, or the Old Saying Verified “Raining Cats, Dogs, & Pitchforks”!!! The description of this print from 1835 reads as follows: A heavy slanting downpour composed of cats, dogs, and pitchforks descends on a road filled with pedestrians. An old applewoman and a porter with a chest inscribed “Glass keep this side upward” have been thrown to the ground. Pitchforks transfix a kneeling dustman; another pierces the umbrella of a person on which a dog is also seated. A man is pinned to the ground; his wooden leg impales a cat. A barrow-woman shouting “Cats meat, dogs meat!” is beset by dogs and cats. A coach numbered “2072,” with a burlesque coat of arms (a cat and dog for supporters, a cat for a crest) contains two dandies; the roof is covered with animals and pierced by pitchforks. There is a background of houses and landscape; a placard on which a coach and four is depicted is inscribed “Cheap Safe & Expeditious Travelling – Pig & Whistle to the Cow & Snuffers – Winchester Hants.”