To celebrate the New Year, we’re giving away two beautiful hardback books on Japanese art and design courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.
What better time than the New Year to celebrate all that is great about Japan’s traditional aesthetic culture, from beautiful woodblock prints to the fundamental principles of wabi and sabi?
To enter the competition, all you have to do is contact us via the About section of the website (or click here) with the answer to the question at the bottom of the page.
From Tuttle Publishing:
Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics And Culture
Patricia J. Graham’s beautiful hardcover book Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture is a great introduction to the key elements of Japanese aesthetics. The book takes the reader on a journey through the basic elements of traditional Japanese design, including mingei (Japanese folk crafts), the opulent karei that characterizes the design technique used in the Imperial Court, and wabi and sabi, which Graham defines as “rustic and withered elegance” of the kind you might see at Kyoto’s Ginkaku-ji Temple. Graham then moves on to discuss the religious influences of Buddhism and Shinto on Japanese design, with the rich yet accessible detail that you’d expect from an expert in the field. This is followed by a discussion of what Graham sees as the ten key characteristics of Japanese design, which look not only at the historical importance of these characteristics, but rather take a much more panoramic view of how these characteristics have been present through Japanese art and design through the ages. In the final chapter, Graham looks at how Japanese design was opened to the West between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries. This is particularly interesting, since it takes an academic look at the work of those pioneers who took Japan’s diverse cultural traditions beyond the bounds of Japan itself.
Throughout, the book is illustrated with high-quality photographs of Japanese artifacts, architecture, art, and antiques, some of which were taken by Graham herself. The pictures cover a broad range of art and design, showing images of the work of cutting-edge artists such as Kusama Yayoi, stunning views of some of Japan’s architectural treasures like the Katsura Imperial Villa, and breathtaking photographs of Japanese pottery. On the whole the book is insightful and instructive, a perfect introduction to Japan’s fascinating artistic culture for anyone who is interested. At the same time, Graham has a masterful command of key details that would benefit any student of Japanese art. The book contains over 200 stunning photographs that allow the reader to access a treasure trove of Japanese objects that trumps that of any museum — and given that Graham is a former professor and museum curator, that comes as no surprise. The book is a great addition to anyone’s collection.
If you’re interested in learning more about Graham’s work, you can check out her personal website at http://www.patriciagraham.net/.
Japan Journeys: Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan
Japan Journeys: Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan is a breathtaking collection of a whopping 523 woodblock prints brought together by Andreas Marks, Director of the Clark Centre for Japanese Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Marks organizes this extraordinary collection around Japan’s cultural centers: Tokyo and Kyoto.
The first chapter takes in sights of the Japanese capital Tokyo, charting the city’s journey from small-town Edo, to its position as the Tokugawa Shogunate’s seat of power, through to its status as the engine of the Meiji powerhouse. The prints range from classic images from Hokusai’s series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji to modern gems such as Oda Kazuma’s Ginza by Night. The prints of Kyoto will seem familiar to many, with images of temples and shrines, geisha, and the Gion Festival. But Marks also takes care to show a selection of prints depicting areas beyond Tokyo and Kyoto, including images of Osaka, Nara, Hakone, Yokohama, and Miyajima. The collection is accessible to any reader, but also benefits greatly from Marks’ expertise, with small blurbs accompanying each print, giving context and clarity for those encountering this sphere of Japanese culture for the first time.
While many of the images conjure up impressions of traditional Japan replete with sakura and samurai, what actually sets this collect apart is the inclusion of the modernist woodblock prints that show how Japan morphed from a closed culture into a cosmopolitan one, from the arrival of Perry’s ships in 1853 through to Onchi Koshiro’s postwar impression of Tokyo Station in 1946, taken from Scenes of Lost Tokyo. In this sense, the book is not only a wonderful glimpse into the art of Japanese woodblock printing, but is also invaluable to anyone interested in how the history of Japan’s modernization played out among the nation’s artists.
To enter the competition for a chance to win these books, tell us about your favorite element of Japanese art or design — it could be a favorite painting, object, or cultural location. We can’t wait to hear from you! Click here to give us your answer — don’t forget to include a name and an e-mail address.