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Mystery Artist: Sharaku [Mistery]
No Date, Japan - Quarto, Illustrated with many color plates, including several tipped in plates. Bilingual in English and Japanese. Toshusai Sharaku (active 1790 - 1795) is widely considered to be one of the great masters of the woodblock printing in Japan. Little is known of him, besides his ukiyo-e prints; neither his true name nor the date of his death are known with any certainty. His active career as a woodblock artist seems to have spanned just ten months, from late 1794 to early 1795.One theory claims that Sharaku was not a person, but a project launched by a group of artists to help a woodblock print house that had aided them. In this theory, the name Sharaku is taken from sharakusai, "nonsense," and is an in-joke by the artists, who knew that there was no actual Sharaku. The rapidly changing style that Sharaku utilized, with four distinct stylistic changes in his short career, lends credibility to this claim. It was also common for woodblock prints of this time to involve anywhere from 5 to 10 or more artisans working together. It seems unlikely that none of them would reveal Sharaku's true identity, or otherwise leave some information about Sharaku behind. Another speculation associates Sharaku with the great ukiyo-e master Hokusai. This explanation stems from Hokusai's disappearance from the art world between the years of 1792 and 1796, the period that Sharaku's work began to appear. Beyond giving a reason for Hokusai's absence from the Edo art scene during this time the theory has little evidence. Regarding his abrupt disappearance, one conjecture is that his master was unhappy with his retainer's association with the demi- monde of the kabuki theatre. Fine in original carton. This is copy #85 in a limited edition. [Attributes: Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Sean Fagan, Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-10-29           Check availability:      AbeBooks    


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