Hideo Hagiwara - Master of the Japanese Contemporary Woodblock Printing

"Hideo Hagiwara is a master of the Japanese contemporary woodblock printing technique and one of the best known Japanese artists of the 20th century. He employs a broad variety of printmaking techniques including woodblock, lithograph, etching and stencil. Born in Kofu City, Yamanishi Prefecture in 1913, Hideo Hagiwara lived in Korea and Manchuria during his early years.  After returning to Japan in 1929 he studied oil painting at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts from which he graduated in 1938.  While in school he briefly studied woodblock printing with Hiratsuka Un'ichi (1895-1997), a major figure in the sosaku hanga (creative print) movement.  He spent the first 20 years of his career as a painter (and continued to paint throughout his career), but during his recuperation from tuberculosis (1953-1955) he took up woodblock printing.  In 1958 he began to explore abstraction and began employing innovative and experimental printmaking techniques.  His work began to receive international acclaim in the 1960s with numerous international exhibitions.  Hagiwara served as Chairman of the Japanese Print Association for many years and in 1989 he was awarded a gold medal by the Nobel Prize Committee for five works produced on themes from the novels of Kawabata Yasunari.  He passed away on November 4, 2007 at the age of 94.To visit Hagiwara is to become aware of some of the sources that stir his inspiration.  Art objects and artifacts of man's long history are carefully chosen to embellish the living and working spaces.  These objects span much time and geography with a common quality of genuineness, directness, perhaps humbleness - a sort of primitive, of-the-earth sophistication with meaning for all time.Among his interests are the pots created more than 4,000 years ago during Japan's Jomon Period.  These pots represent Japan's earliest artistic achievements.  They belie their ancient origin in the fresh treatment of the clay.  There are scratchings, impressions from ropes, and thin rolls and globs of clay pressed onto the clay body, similar to contemporary techniques that feature the natural characteristics of clay.One can appreciate Hagiwara's interest in such examples, where clay, hand, and tool work in natural harmony.  His own work reveals a similar harmony of wood, hand, and tool.  The influence on Hagiwara's work from Jomon pots and other artistic achievements of man's past has been strong, but indirect.  Hagiwara tells us he does not borrow style or imagery.  Rather, he absorbs the atmosphere of these creations, appreciating their directness, their natural use of material and tool, integrity of form, and use of scale and space ."(myjapanesehanga.com)


Earl Moran - The lost art of the American pin-up

Earl Moran (December 8, 1893 – January 17, 1984), born in Belle Plaine, Iowa, was a 20th-century pin-up and glamour artist. Moran's first instruction in art came under the direction of John Stich, an elderly German artist who also taught the great illustrator W.H.D. Koerner. Moran also studied with Walter Biggs at the Chicago Art Institute.Moran later studied at the famed Art Students League in Manhattan, where he took instruction from the muralists Vincent Drumond, Robert Henri, Thomas Fogarty (Norman Rockwell's teacher), and the legendary anatomist George Bridgman. After moving back to Chicago in 1931 and opening a small studio where he specialized in photography and illustration, he sent some paintings of bikini-clad girls to two calendar companies; when both Brown and Bigelow and Thomas D. Murphy Company bought the work, his career was officially launched.
In 1946, Moran moved to Hollywood though he had already painted many movie stars including Betty Grable, for publicity posters. Soon after his arrival, he interviewed a young starlet named Norma Jean Dougherty who wanted to model for him. For the next four years, Marilyn Monroe posed for Moran and the two became friends. She always credited him with making her legs look better than they were as she felt they were too thin. Moran's work during this time period is now his most valuable; a Moran Marilyn pastel sold for $83,650, nearly doubling the previous record for one of his works, when the Craig MacMillan collection was sold at Heritage Auctions in February 2011.Moran lived in the San Fernando Valley from 1951 to 1955, hosting fabulous parties, directing and starring in short television films, painting portraits of Earl Carroll's Vanities Girls, and maintaining his position as a star of the pin-up world. Wikipedia 

Chen Zhen - Conceptual Art

Chen Zhen ( 1955 – 2000) was a Chinese-French conceptual artist known for his large-scale sculptures and installations such as La Danse de la fontaine émergente in Paris. He is recognized as one of the most important Chinese artists since the 1990s.
Born in Shanghai and educated in Shanghai and Paris, Chen suffered from autoimmune hemolytic anemia and died at age 45. He was the brother of Chen Zhu, a vice chairman of the National People's Congress of China.
Although his career was cut short by disease, Chen had achieved international fame by the time he died. His mature work, created in the last decade of his life, explored "synergy" between different cultural and political environments. He is also known for using furniture and antique Chinese materials in his constructions. His large-scale works, exploring the topics of health and homeland, were well received globally. He held more than 30 solo shows in Europe, Asia, and America. After his death, memorial exhibitions were held at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, MoMA PS1 in New York City, as well as in Greece and Italy.Despite his fame abroad, as of 2015 there have been only two solo exhibitions of his works in his native Shanghai. The first was held at the Shanghai Art Museum in 2006, and the second at the Rockbund Art Museum (2015). The latter was curated by Hou Hanru, artistic director of the MAXXI in Rome.Wikipedia

Edward Sheriff Curtis - Photographs of Native Americans

Edward Sheriff Curtis (February 16, 1868 – October 19, 1952) was an American photographer and ethnologist whose work focused on the American West and on Native American peoplesIn 1906, J. P. Morgan provided Curtis with $75,000 to produce a series on Native Americans. This work was to be in 20 volumes with 1,500 photographs. Morgan's funds were to be disbursed over five years and were earmarked to support only fieldwork for the books, not for writing, editing, or production of the volumes. Curtis received no salary for the project, which was to last more than 20 years. Under the terms of the arrangement, Morgan was to receive 25 sets and 500 original prints as repayment.Once Curtis had secured funding for the project, he was able to hire several employees to help him. For writing and for recording Native American languages, he hired a former journalist, William E. Myers.For general assistance with logistics and fieldwork, he hired Bill Phillips, a graduate of the University of Washington. Perhaps the most important hire for the success of the project was Frederick Webb Hodge, an anthropologist employed by the Smithsonian Institution, who had researched Native American peoples of the southwestern United States. Hodge was hired to edit the entire series.Eventually 222 complete sets were published. Curtis's goal was not just to photograph but also to document as much of Native American traditional life as possible before that way of life disappeared. He wrote in the introduction to his first volume in 1907, "The information that is to be gathered ... respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost." Curtis made over 10,000 wax cylinder recordings of Native American language and music. He took over 40,000 photographic images of members of over 80 tribes. He recorded tribal lore and history, and he described traditional foods, housing, garments, recreation, ceremonies, and funeral customs. He wrote biographical sketches of tribal leaders. His material, in most cases, is the only written recorded history, although there is still a rich oral tradition that preserves history.His work was exhibited at the Rencontres d'Arles festival in France in 1973. Wikipedia