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VJP title
Utamaro print showing


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KAWANO Kaoru (河野薫)


kawano crane Kawano Kaoru (河野薫) was born in Hokkaido and studied at the Kawabata Art School beginning in 1934. He had his first prints accepted by the Japan Print Association in 1944. By the 1950s he began to exhibit more frequently in shows around the world.

Some of his prints lean toward the sentimental, particularly his depictions of young children, but his best works are restrained and introduce an effective balance of design elements, some of which are sculptural in quality and arrangement.

The figure on the right is titled Tanchô zuru (B) and "Sacred Crane (B)" in pencil in the lower margin along with the artist's name and the edition number 103/200. It is not dated. The artist also signed in pencil and sealed Kaoru at the lower right. The image is printed in large format on paper measuring 605 x 457 mm.

Kawano made effective use of woodgrain patterns for both the background and the body of the crane, which provide depth and texture. This use of plywood surface textures was characteristic of the works of many sosaku hanga artists.

Another common element was the simplification of forms. Here Kawano arranged seven simple shapes to create the beak, head, neck, body, back feathers, and legs. The long curve of the neck and the balancing on a single leg are well observed by the artist, which add movement and slight tension to the composition. Overall, there is a pleasing balance among all the elements and a feeling of timelessness.

kawano labelSosaku hanga artists took pride in cutting the blocks and printing their own works, in contrast to shin hanga artists, who continued to collaborate with professional block cutters and printers. Occasionally, sosaku hanga artists included stamps or labels like the one affixed to the back of "Sacred Crane (B)" to indicate that the prints were self-carved and self-printed (see detail).

© 1999-2020 by John Fiorillo


Kawakita, Michiaki: Contemporary Japanese Prints. Tokyo & Palo Alto: Kodansha, 1967, pp.140 & 181 and plate 100.

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