- Also known as
Hiratsuka Un'ichi (平塚運一)
primary name: Hiratsuka Un'ichi
- individual; printmaker; Japanese; Male
- Life dates
- Print artist. Hiratsuka qualifies in every respect as the grand old man of the 'Sosaku Hanga' movement. He was born in Shimane Prefecture, the son of a shrine carpenter, but, having met Ishii Hakutei (q.v.) in his home town of Matsue in 1913, went to Tokyo in 1915 to study Western painting with Okada Saburosuke (1869-1939). Ishii advised him to learn block-carving, in which he already had acquired a keen interest. This he did during 1915 with Igami Bonkotsu, the craftsman who had already done much work with the creative print artists (1987, 0316, 0498). His thorough training with Igami made him the 'hands' of 'Sosaku Hanga' thereafter. He showed his first prints in 1916 at the Nika-kai exhibition; in the late 1920s, inspired by early Buddhist woodblocks, he was producing work in his characteristic black and white technique (1987, 0316, 0478). His series of twelve prints 'Tokyo after the Earthquake' (1925) was, however, in colours, and established his reputation. Until 1935 he taught practical woodblock printing around Japan and inspired Munakata (Cat. 59-65; 1983, 0702, 04; 1983, 0702, 07; 1981, 0331, 02; 1989, 0314, 0561-3; 1980, 1227, 01; 1981, 0730, 012; 1987, 0316, 0547) to use black and white. In 1939 he exhibited his personal collection of old Buddhist prints at Yanagi Soetsu's Mingeikan (Museum of Folk Art). From 1935 until 1944 he taught woodblock printing as an extra course at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, the first time the subject had been permitted there, and inspired many young artists as a result, including Kitaoka Fumio (q.v.). In this period he came to know and influence almost every important print artist of his day. After the Pacific War, when he worked briefly in Beijing, he continued to collaborate closely with Onchi Koshiro (q.v.) and in 1948 began his own school in Tokyo. From 1962 he has lived with his daughter in Washington, DC, continuing to produce large prints in black and white. He is also admired as a poet, and has designed illustrated editions of his poems.
- Smith, Lawrence, 'Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989: Woodblocks and Stencils', BMP, London, 1994, p. 24 and nos 7, 23-4, 81-2.
Merrit, H., et al., 'Hiratsuka: Modern Master', Art Institute of Chicago, 2001.
Merritt, Helen, and Yamada, Nanako, 'Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints 1900-1975', University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1992, pp. 34-5.
Merritt, Helen, 'Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Early Years', University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1990, ch. 9, and passim.
Statler, Oliver, 'Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn', Turtle, Rutland, Vermont, and Tokyo, 1956, ch. 4, and passim.
Kawakita, Michiaki (ed.), 'Hiratsuka Un'ichi hanga-shu', Kodansha, Tokyo, 1978.
Michener, James A., 'The Modern Japanese Print. An Appreciation', popular edn, Tuttle, Rutland, Vermont, and Tokyo, 1962, pp. 16-9.
Sekino, Jun'ichiro, 'Waga hangashi-tachi', Kodansha, Tokyo, 1983, pp. 147-53.
Onchi, Koshiro, "The Modern Japanese Print: An Internal History of the Sosaku Hanga Movement", trans. U. Osamu and C. H. Mitchell in 'Ukiyo-e geijutsu', 11, 1965, p. 16.
Hiratsuka, Un'ichi, 'Hanga no giho', Ars, Tokyo, 1927.
Hiratsuka, Un'ichi, 'Hiratsuka Un'ichi meisaku hanga-shu', Nihon Geijutsu Shuppansha, Tokyo, 1951.
Smith, Lawrence, Harris, Victor, and Clark, Timothy, 'Japanese Art: Masterpieces in the British Museum', BMP, London, 1990, no. 235 (in colour).
Carey, Frances (ed.), 'Collecting the 20th Century', BMP, London, 1991, p. 43 (in colour).