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In the early 20th century, Japan flourished under modernity’s ascent: employment opportunities increased, conditions for women improved and optimism abounded. At the same time, many found themselves displaced and disoriented, longing for the former days of established order. Japan Modern documents the turbulence of this period as expressed through printmaking. Japanese artists gravitated toward the medium, drawn to its timelessness. Accordingly, many blended traditional and modern elements, implementing ancient woodcarving techniques to render street scenes with high-rise buildings, cars, railroads, factories and Japanese women with chin-length bobs dancing and drinking cocktails. Many, however, portrayed more traditional subjects such as idealized portraits of women and romantic landscapes.
The prints featured in the volume are sourced from the Elise Wessels collection in the Netherlands, which is considered the most comprehensive archive of early 20th-century Japanese prints outside of Japan. This brand-new edition features a new cover treatment and a new foreword by Marije Jansen, the curator of Japanese prints at the Rijksmuseum.