This captivating gallery offers rare glimpses of Japanese culture during the early years of the 20th century. Drawn from popular women's magazines of the Taishô period, its kuchi-e (frontispiece pictures) of bijin (beauties) represent a variety of artists, from the visual poetry of... read more
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This captivating gallery offers rare glimpses of Japanese culture during the early years of the 20th century. Drawn from popular women's magazines of the Taishô period, its kuchi-e (frontispiece pictures) of bijin (beauties) represent a variety of artists, from the visual poetry of famous painters to more prosaic efforts by anonymous designers. Printed in the era's latest techniques of color lithography and offset printing, these kuchi-e bijin were created for mass production, yet they echo the form and appeal of woodblock prints from earlier generations. Their fashions are new enough to be exciting but sufficiently traditional to be reassuringly familiar. Embracing noble ideals and modern reality, the kuchi-e bijin suggest both the aspirations and the mundane truths of their audience, combining the sense of fine art and the sensibilities of popular illustration. Kendall H. Brown is Associate Professor of Asian Art History at California State University, Long Beach. His informative captions and Preface explore the images' literary content, social context, and the technologies used in their production. A valuable resource for scholars of Japanese art and period book illustration, this volume is also of tremendous interest to anyone with an eye for beauty.
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