Reader Collection > Guides > History of Japanese Art: Bird Prints


Chapter 4 – Gendai Bird Prints



  Notable Artists 46-89




(46) Tadashige Ono

Tadashige was a mid-twentieth century woodblock printmaker whose art reflected the dual influences of German expressionism and socialist politicsa. He aimed to create a modern form of art that could be understood by the urban masses. To achieve this objective he used a semi-abstract style to draw urban and suburban scenes. Birds were included in more than twenty of these scenes. Print 185 is a typical example in which unidentified birds were drawn as dark silhouettes, perhaps representing the anonymity of most urban inhabitants. The man-made objects that Tadashige included in a picture were drawn in an equally unflattering way. These objects were both rough-hewn and depressingly dark in color. Tadashige’s bird prints would not likely appeal to viewers who expect bird art to provide an uplifting visual experience.

a   Merritt (1990)












185   Unidentified bird by Tadashige Ono, 235 mm x 155 mm, woodblock print entitled shallow beach



(47) Eiichi Kotozuka


Eiichi was a mid-twentieth century artist who used woodblock printing to make more than twenty bird prints. In some ways his prints were modern and in others ways they were traditional. Typical of modern (i.e., gendai) bird print artists, he used semi-abstract shapes to depict birds. For example, in print 186 one of the birds has no feet or tail. He also distorted the shapes of flowers in this picture. Eiichi usually paired birds with flowers in his prints which was more typical of the work of shin hanga and ukiyo-e artists than gendai artists. Both the birds and flowers he depicted had symbolic associations in Japan. In this picture the white little egret is a symbol of purity and delicacy while the eulalia grass (Miscanthus sinensis) and cotton-rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) are both associated with the autumn season. Unlike most gendai artists, Eiichi rarely signed his prints using the roman alphabet. Instead, he added his personal seal. 



186   Little egret (Egretta garzetta) by Eiichi Kotozuka, 145 mm x 205 mm, woodblock print



(48) Seikō Kawachi


Seikōa used either screenprinting or woodblock printing to make more than twenty bird prints since the 1970s. Most of these prints showed a line of domestic fowl flying furiously upwards towards a multicolored sun as in print 187. This surrealistic depiction of domestic fowl was clearly intended to surprise and entertain the viewer. Other surprising objects often appeared in the picture as well. Here Seikō included a turbulent sea which would be instantly recognized by Japanese viewers because it was identical to the sea in a woodblock print made by the ukiyo-e artist Hokusai Katsushika. Hokusai’s picture has since become one of the most famous of all Japanese prints. Seikō’s prints may not be as famous but they are equally creative.


a   also known as Shigeyuki



187   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Seikō Kawachi, 500 mm x 750 mm, screenprint entitled flying - Hokusai



(49) Ryō Arai

Ryō started to make intaglio prints in the mid-1970s. More than twenty of these prints included birds. These birds were often the only recognizable shapes included in a picture. Print 188 is presumably a landscape but it is unclear whether the abstracted shapes represent plants or man-made objects. Ryō forces viewers to use their imagination when looking at his pictures which is one reason why this type of modern art appeals to some people.

















188   Unknown bird by Ryō Arai . 330 mm x 240 mm, intaglio print



(50) Kiyoharu Yamada


In the 1980s Kiyoharu began to publish a series of vertically-oriented woodblock prints which combined creative art and humorous poetry. Caricatures of birds appeared in more than twenty of these prints. Owls were chosen for depiction most often. Kiyoharu typically exaggerated their big eyes and oblong bodies as in print 189. He added other creative features to make each bird unique. In print 189 he drew two owls, one within the stomach of the second. This novel depiction of birds makes this print one of the most imaginative of all Japanese bird prints. In addition to birds, Kiyoharu’s prints usually included plants and an atmospheric element. In this print snow is featured both in the artwork and in the poem at the top of the printa.


a   The poem says “sitting in the upright position the snow is falling, it falls while chanting the Buddhist sutra in faint voices”.   



189   Unidentified owl (Family Strigidae) by Kiyoharu Yamada, 285 mm x 375 mm, woodblock print entitled snow



(51) Shin’ichi Takahashi


Shin’ichi was a mid-twentieth century artist whose bird artwork focused on a single species, the crested ibis. He made more than twenty different woodblock prints of this bird. In each print either a single bird or pair of birds was drawn in an imaginative way. For example, in print 190 the bodies of the two birds were joined and its true white color was enhanced with stripes of red, black and grey. Birds were unaccompanied by any other objects in these prints. Very few Japanese artists chose to depict the crested ibis. It had little symbolic importance and by the 1980s there were no longer any wild birds of this species living in Japana. Its last stronghold had been the island of Sado which was Shin’ichi’s home. Presumably its special status as a rare bird on Sado influenced Shin’ichi’s choice of bird subject for his art.


a   Brazil (1991)



190   Crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) by Shin’ichi Takahashi, 285 mm x 345 mm, woodblock print



(52) Hiroshi Kabe


During the last half of the twentieth century Hiroshi published more than twenty bird prints. The bird’s minimalist form was the most characteristic feature of these prints. In print 191 the bird’s shape was created using a single curved line and a few straight lines. The small beak and wing confirm that this shape was a bird but its real counterpart is a mystery. The bird’s speckled coloring is a second characteristic feature of Hiroshi’s bird prints. This effect was achieved by using porous paper as a screen and overprinting the original color with a series of different colors. The composition of Hiroshi’s bird prints is also best described as minimalist. Birds were either unaccompanied or paired with the moon as in this print.



191   Unidentified bird by Hiroshi Kabe, 155 mm x 210 mm, screenprint entitled in the starry sky




(53) Kōzō Inoue

During the past forty years Kōzō has made more than twenty screenprints showing birds in flight. His favorite bird subjects are gulls (print 192), geese and doves (print 132). The birds are always depicted as simple silhouettes. The picture’s color scheme was equally simple, usually only one or two colors. Color was applied unevenly, as in many screenprints, to create multiple shades of a single color. In print 192 different shades of red made some of the gulls look three-dimensional despite being only silhouettes. Kōzō lives and works in France which explains why the titles of his prints are written in the French language.















192   Gull (Larus sp.) by Kōzō Inoue, 660 mm x 500 mm, screenprint entitled gull four



(54) Teizō Ogaki

Teizō learned to make intaglio prints in France in the 1960s and chose to live there after finishing his studies. The French countryside is the subject of his art, drawn in an impressionistic way. Some of his prints were oriented horizontally (e.g., print 193) while others were oriented vertically. In more than ten of these country scenes Teizō included birds as a symbol of freedom and trees as symbols of strength and life. This symbolism helps to explain why domestic fowl are shown foraging freely in a woodland instead of in an enclosed farmyard in the print below.














193   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Teizō Ogaki, 650 mm x 500 mm, intaglio print entitled today like yesterday like tomorrowl



(55) Ayaka Sen


Ayaka is a contemporary artist whose work to date includes more than ten screenprints of birds. The bird subject is typically an owl which is sitting on a tree branch, either alone, as in print 194, or in a group. The owl or owls are usually centered in the picture and shown close up facing the viewer with either flowers or the moon in the background. Ayaka’s owls often look comical rather than menacing, as in the real world, because she either reduces the size of their eyes or makes them look cross eyed as in print 194. In addition she reduces the size of the owl’s body which makes it look like a cute baby. This title of print 194 is Midas touch which suggests that she is using the owl as a symbol of good luck, similar to many other modern bird printmakers in Japan. 



194   Ural owl (Strix uralensis) by Ayaka Sen, 200 mm x 275 mm, screenprint entitled Midas touch



(56) Hideo Yoshihara

Between 1966 and 1974 Hideo published a series of eleven intaglio prints entitled woman and bird. Print 195 is one of the prints from this series. Its picture composition, bird subject and format are each unique among Japanese bird prints. Pairing a bird with female nudes was very surprising. Beautiful women had appeared previously in Japanese bird prints but they were always fully clothed. Hideo’s choice of bird species was equally surprising. The great crested grebe is not a bird familiar to most people because it prefers the middle of large lakes and is difficult to see with the naked eye. None of the eleven pictures had the usual straight-sided shape and each picture was placed nearer the top of a much larger piece of paper. With so many unique features the prints in this series are some of the most creative of all gendai bird prints.


195a   Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by Hideo Yoshihara, 165 mm x 225 mm, intaglio print from the series entitled woman and bird









195b   Enlargement of the picture portion of print 195a



(57) Izumi Fujita


Izumi is a contemporary woodblock printmaker who has made more than ten bird prints since the mid-1990s. He chose birds from a wide range of families, including owls, hawks and ducks, but he chose only species from these families whose feathers were white, black or shades of gray. The long-tailed duck in print 196 is one example. The shape of this duck, plus that of all other birds, was drawn accurately which made it easy to identify the species depicted. Picture composition is the most outstanding feature of Izumi’s artwork. He uses curved lines, round shapes and color contrast to create compositions which are full of energy. This print of a duck riding a large wave is an excellent example. His use of water droplets to suggest a powerful force is both novel and very effective. 



196   Long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis) by Izumi Fujita, 320 mm x 400 mm, woodblock print entitled between the waves – long-tailed duck



(58) Chūsaku Ōyama

 Chūsaku was a painter who was active during the last half of the twentieth century. During this time he also made more than ten lithographic prints of birds. Each of these prints showed one or more red-crowned cranes, almost always in flight. Print 197 is one example. A picture’s background included only sky and sometimes Mt. Fuji in the distance. Each of the objects that Chūsaku included in a picture would be easily recognized by viewers because he drew these objects in a true-to-life way. To accommodate the extended necks and trailing legs of cranes in flight, picture format was usually horizontal and picture size was large.
















197   Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) by Chūsaku Ōyama, 580 mm x 430 mm, lithograph



(59) Harumi Momose


Harumi is a young female artist who graduated from art school in 2007. Her first professional work included a series of woodblock prints showing birds found in the twenty-three wards of the city of Tokyo. She chose this theme because of her admiration for the wild creatures which have successfully adapted to the urban environment created by humans. Each print in the series is vertically oriented and relatively small in size. Print 198 is one examplea. Most pictures provide a close-up view of a bird whose shape and colors were drawn with sufficient accuracy for the species to be easily recognized by Japanese picture viewers.


a Additional examples are shown on her website



198   Great tit (Parus major) by Harumi Momose, woodblock print, 80 mm x 100 mm, entitled great tit



(60) Kenji Ushiku

 Kenji made intaglio prints. Whitish bird was the title of a series of about ten prints that he published in the 1970s. In this series Kenji drew either domestic ducks or geese sitting in a semi-abstract rural setting, as in print 199. Some of these prints were oriented horizontally (e.g. print 199) while others (e.g., print 130) were oriented vertically. Each of the objects in a picture was usually colored using the same, single color, typically red (e.g., print 199) or green (e.g, print 130). The use of a single color helped to unify objects in the picture, especially in vertically-oriented pictures where landscape objects were arranged both vertically and side by side (e.g., print 130).














199   Domestic duck (Anas platyrhynchos) by Kenji Ushiku, 295 mm x 210 mm, intaglio print entitled whitish bird



(61) Matazō Kayama

Matazō was a painter who also made more than ten intaglio prints of birds during the last half of the twentieth century. The large-billed crow depicted in print 200 was his favorite bird subject. He typically drew birds in a semi-abstract way using a series of overlapping, short lines to create the bird’s approximate shape. To bring the bird to life it was shown either in flight, as in print 200, or standing in such a way to suggest motion. A single, centrally positioned bird was featured in most prints. No background was included when the bird was flying and in pictures where the bird was standing it was shown in a very simplified landscape. Matazō clearly wanted viewers to focus their attention on the picture’s bird subject. The format of print 200 is atypical of his bird prints. Most were vertically oriented and larger in size.




200a   Large-billed crow (Corvus macrorhyncha) by Matazō Kayama, 120 mm x 95 mm, intaglio print



200b   Enlargement of the picture portion of print 200a



(62) Seitarō Kuroda

Seitarō is an avant-garde artist who, for over fifty years, has created art in many forms. He experienced the negative effects of war early in life and since then Seitarō has used his artwork to promote world peacea. The bird that symbolizes peace (i.e., a white dove) appears often in his art, including more than ten bird prints. Print 201 is a typical example. The dove was usually drawn in a sketch-like way with a simple outline and minimal coloring. An assortment of lines or other shapes was added to the background to complete the picture. In print 201 he used multiple copies of a bird’s foot together with unstable, diagonal lines to suggest movement and bring the dove to life. Unconventional designs such as this one are common in his imaginative artwork.

a   Page (2011)  














201   Dove (Columba livia) by Seitarō Kuroda, 240 mm x 180 mm, lithograph



(63) Tatsuoki Ichino

Tatsuoki painted and made lithographs during the last half of the twentieth century. His artwork included more than ten bird prints. He chose birds from the most popular bird families, including the pair of red-crowned cranes in print 202. He typically included more than one bird in a picture, presumably to imply interaction, and he drew birds in an active pose which also helped to bring the birds to life. Their shape and color were sufficiently accurate for the species depicted to be easily identified by Japanese viewers. In contrast, the shapes and colors of any objects in the picture’s background were much less true-to-life. The abstract, multicolored background of print 202 is typical of Tatsuoki’s pictures. So is the irregular edge of the picture’s border. His use of a disordered background enhanced the impression of motion and energy that he created by showing birds in an active pose. This combination of disorder (i.e., background) and order (i.e., birds) is unusual but effective.














202   Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) by Tatsuoki Ichino, 535 mm x 405 mm, lithograph



(64) Akio Watanabe

Akio is primarily an illustrator of children’s books but he also makes art prints. From the 1990s to date he has published more than ten bird prints. The bird species, picture composition and drawing style he chose for these prints would all appeal to children. A young owl is typically shown sitting in a tree with a kitten as in print 203. The owl had big eyes and a small round body which made it appear to be both cute and harmless. Pictures were colored creatively using bright highlights to focus the viewer’s attention on certain objects. In print 203 the owl’s eyes were colored bright yellow and it was placed below the moon which was the only other brightly colored object in the picture. To fully appreciate Akio’s prints it helps to view them through a child’s eyes.
















203   Owl (Family Strigidae) by Akio Watanabe, 270 mm x 270 mm, lithograph



(65) Fumiaki Mutō


Fumiaki is an illustrator and digital printmaker who has designed more than ten bird prints since the mid-1990s. For these designs he took some traditional Japanese art motifs and combined them with a bird drawn in a western, realistic manner. In print 204 a near photographic likeness of a common kingfisher appears in the foreground. All other objects in the background were drawn in a seventeenth century Japanese painting style made famous by Kōrin Ogataa. Swirling water, lozenge shapes clouds, boldly colored flowers and rounded leaves are characteristic elements of this painting style. These elements were repeated across the picture surface to create a dynamic pattern that was pleasing to the eye. The prints that Fumiaki creates using these traditional motifs are just as pleasing as Kōrin’s original designs.    


a   This style of painting is called Rinpa. See Stern (1971) or Yamane et al. (1998) for more information about it. 



204   Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) by Fumiaki Mutō, 420 mm x 570 mm, digital print entitled common kingfisher and Japanese iris



(66) Kōhō Ōuchi

To date Kōhō has made more than ten prints of birds, mostly owls, using two related printing techniques; namely, woodblock printing and wood engraving. Print 205 was woodblock printed while print 125 was wood engraved. Both of these prints are relatively small in size and almost square in shape which is typical of his bird prints. The bird subject was usually shown sitting on a branch of a magnolia (Magnolia sp.) tree. Both the bird and tree were drawn with sufficient accuracy to be easily identified but their colors and shapes were rarely true-to-life. For example, in print 205 the owl is green and yellow instead of brownish and the typically straight magnolia tree branches look more like twisted vines. 














205   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Kōhō Ōuchi, 150 mm x 125 mm, woodblock print



(67) Kunio Satō

Kunio is a woodworker who makes both woodblock prints and intricately carved wooden picture frames. During the past thirty years he has made more than ten bird prints. His bird subject has been the owl (e.g., print 206) almost exclusively. The shapes and surface features of the birds he drew often had a coarse, chiseled look which, in this print, was reinforced by the linear pattern of the wood’s natural grain in the background. Plants native to Kunio’s home in northern Japan (e.g., evergreen trees) were included in most prints. Their shapes were also roughly carved and colored evenly in dull tones, perhaps to suggest a night scene. These features give his prints a rustic charm reminiscent of folk art.














206   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Kunio Satō, 290 mm x 185 mm, woodblock print entitled owl



(68) Tadashi Nakayama


Tadashi made woodblock prints during the last half of the twentieth century. Most of his more than ten bird prints were produced during the 1950s and 1960s. In each of these prints he applied ribbons of color to create the shape of a crane. The prominent red ribbons in print 207 may suggest that the crane’s feathers are on fire and bring to mind the mythical phoenix bird. However, the Japanese version of the phoenix bird looks very different (i.e., print 21). The crane in print 198 is standing tall with its neck fully extended. The impression of a very tall bird is reinforced by the large size and narrow width of this print. It is the tallest of all Japanese bird prints. In other prints Tadashi depicted the crane in alternative positions. Yet, the picture composition was always the same; namely, a single bird and a dark background. Tadashi’s novel use of ribbons of color to create the shape of a bird clearly made an impression on other Japanese printmakers. For example, Yoshiharu Kimura later used the same technique in some of his bird prints (e.g., print 141). 



207   Crane (Grus sp.) by Tadashi Nakayama, 320 mm x 820 mm, woodblock print



(69) Wasaburō Hattori


 Wasaburō is a western-style painter and maker of lithographic prints. In the 1980s he made a set of more than ten prints with the very unusual combination of birds and curtain fabric in the foreground and a European cityscape or landscape in the background. Print 208 is one example. Each object in the picture was drawn very accurately, typical of traditional western art, so there could be no doubt about their identity. In this case the cage birds are budgerigars which are native to Australia and exported worldwide as pets. While it is possible to see them caged and sitting in a curtained window of a European house which looks out onto a river their perches are not likely to be as stout and leafy as those shown in print 208 and there are no cage bars visible.  This apparently surreal scene certainly stimulates thought, which is perhaps the artist’s intent.



208   Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus ) by Wasaburō Hattori , 325 mm x 460 mm, lithograph



(70) Fusako Yose


Fusako is a contemporary female screenprint artist whose art shows elements of human civilizations from around the world, both past and presenta. In a series of prints entitled “music of Andean civilizations” one of the elements depicted is a bird - the Andean condor. It appears in thirteen prints, most often drawn in an abstract way, similar to the way it was drawn in ancient Andean art where it may have been included as a symbol of freedom and strength. In print 209 Fusako superimposed an abstract condor on other forms seen in ancient Andean art.


a Additional examples of Fusako’s screenprint art are shown on her website



209   Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) by Fusako Yose, screenprint, 280 mm x 380 mm, entitled music of Andean civilization 4



(71) Hisami Kunitake


Hisami designed both commercial art and fine art screenprints during the last half of the twentieth century. During his career he made more than ten bird prints. Most of these prints were landscape scenes with a white bird in the foreground and water, mountains and (or) trees in the background (e.g., print 210). Even though the bird was in the foreground it was often very small in size. However, it was usually large enough to be identifiable without the help of a magnifying glass. Egrets were depicted most often. Presumably Hisami chose white birds because they stood out well against the pastel shades of blue and green that he used to color the landscape objects in the background. These landscape objects were usually drawn less distinctly and colored more evenly than the bird which made the picture look three dimensional.



210   Little egret (Egretta garzetta) by Hisami Kunitake, 200 mm x 230 mm, screenprint entitled flying



(72) Kiyomi Moji

In the 1970s Kiyomi started to make woodblock prints of plants and animals. Birds appear in more than ten of these prints and they are typically accompanied by both plants and other animals as in print 211. In this print the woodpecker’s tapping has brought the forest to life. Tree fruits were dislodged, a family of owls was awakened and a salamander was forced to climb upwards, away from potential danger. This action scene is typical of Kiyomi’s prints. She includes multiple forms of life in each print and shows them interacting in an entertaining way. Her caricatures of each of these life forms are equally entertaining. She was clearly very familiar with each of the birds, animals and plants she drew because she exaggerated their most distinctive features (e.g., the scops owl’s big ears and small body and the pygmy woodpecker’s striped brown back and small size). 
















211   Pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki) and scops owl (Otus sp.) by Kiyomi Moji, 215 mm x 240 mm, woodblock print entitled home in the forest



(73) Waichi Hayashi

Waichi began to make woodblock prints in the 1970s and to date they include more than ten bird prints. Arguably the most interesting feature of his bird prints is their surrealistic picture composition. For example, in print 212 Waichi combined a temari balla with a great hornbill. In all his prints both the bird and other objects were drawn with sufficient accuracy to make their identities clear but the connection between the bird and these other objects was often far less clear. The ambiguity of this connection forces viewers to stop thinking rationally and to use their imagination, which may be the artist’s intent.  

a   Originally a child’s toy made from remnants of old fabric, temari balls have become an art form in Japan.














212   Great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) by Waichi Hayashi, 265 mm x 295 mm, woodblock print entitled a bird



(74) Yoshimichi Fujimoto


 Yoshimichi was a painter, ceramics decorator and intaglio printmaker. His output of intaglio prints included more than ten bird prints. His bird subjects included a wide range of species, including the Japanese quail in print 213. Two distinctive features of his birds are their beady eyes and slightly hooked bills. Other features were drawn more accurately. The birds were typically positioned in the center of the picture and surrounded by plants which completely filled the background portion of the picture. These plants were drawn less accurately than were the birds and were often arranged in an almost surreal way, as in print 213. Also like print 213, most prints were vertically oriented and had a large white picture border.



213   Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) by Yoshimichi Fujimoto, 390 mm x 470 mm, intaglio print entitled autumn quail



(75) Akira Fujie

Akira is primarily a nature artist who has made more than ten bird prints since the mid-1970s. He uses the mezzotint technique to depict each of his bird subjects against a dark background. Print 214 is one example. Typical of mezzotints, the birds appear to be slightly out of focus. However, they were drawn very accurately so their identity was always unmistakable. In addition, the birds chosen for depiction were each common in Japan and they would have been familiar to most Japanese viewers. Akira normally paired birds with flowers which makes print 214 unusual. Not only was the wagtail unaccompanied by flowers but the birds were arranged in such a way to suggest the movement of a single bird from left to right in a time-lapse photograph. Whether or not this was his intent this linear arrangement of birds is very novel for a Japanese bird print.



214a   Gray wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) by Akira Fujie, 375 mm x 265 mm, intaglio print entitled wagtail


214b   Enlargement of the picture portion of print 214a



(76) Gō (Tsuyoshi) Yayanagi


In the 1960s and 1970s Gō’s made more than ten screenprints which included birds. Print 215 is a typical example. The bird species resemble tropical species that he would have seen on his South American travels but he changed their true colors so their identity is unknown. Most pictures also included a number of unrelated man-made objects which were arranged in a puzzling way. As a result, Gō’s art is difficult to understand fully. His prints have many of the characteristics of American Pop Art made in the 1960s and 1970s; namely, novel composition, intense colors and objects outlined in black.  



215   Unidentified birds by Gō Yayanagi, 420 mm x 570 mm, screenprint, entitled UNIVERS



(77) Ray Morimura

Ray (or Rei) is a contemporary woodblock printmaker whose work to date includes more than ten bird prints. These prints can be divided into two categories. In the first category the birds were arranged to form a geometric shape. In print 216 this shape was a square. Each of the birds in the picture was drawn and colored creatively using other geometric shapes. Whether these birds had real life counterparts was not always clear. In the second category birds were shown in a natural setting and each was drawn and colored in a more true-to-life way. The swans depicted in print 109 are a good example. Ray’s use of such contrasting styles to depict birds is not typical of gendai bird printmakers.



216a   Scops owl (Otus sp.) and three unidentified birds by Ray Morimura, 145 mm x 170 mm, woodblock print entitled small birds



216b   Enlargement of the picture portion of print 216a



(78) Shin’ichi Yoshizu

Shin’ichi is a graphic designer who has made more than ten screenprints of birds during the past twenty-five years. His objective was to express the beauty of color using simple designa. Consequently, birds were colored creatively, as in print 217, instead of accurately. Print backgrounds were equally creative, both in color and in content. In this print the white dots suggest snow which would be appropriate because cranes form large flocks such as this during the winter months in Japan. While the crane’s distinctive shape make it easy to identify in Shin’ichi’s prints, the simplified shapes of the other birds he drew make them more difficult to identify. They were most often depicted in an interesting flight formation, presumably reflecting Shin’ichi’s interest in design.

 a   More of his designs are shown on his website















217   Crane (Grus sp.) by Shin’ichi Yoshizu, 440 mm x 330 mm, screenprint entitled dancing crane



(79) Yutaka Takayanagi

Yutaka is a contemporary artist who creates aesthetically pleasing screenprints by including only a few, well- spaced objects in a large picture area. A flying bird is one of the objects he included in more than ten of these prints. The relationship between the flying bird and other objects in the picture was not usually obvious. Print 218 is an exception where a gull simply appears to be flying towards Mount Fuji and the sun. Yutaka created a shadow effect by partially superimposing an accurately drawn bird on a white, embossed silhouette of the same bird. He is the only Japanese artist to use this method of making a bird look three dimensional.  












218   Black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) by Yutaka Takayanagi, 420 mm x 300 mm, screenprint entitled gull flying - Fuji



(80) Kōsuke Kimura

In the 1970s Kōsuke made more than ten lithographic prints which included birds. In some pictures the birds were drawn without much detail (e.g., print 219) while in other pictures they were drawn more accurately (e.g., print 103). In all pictures Kōsuke included many other types of objects, some of which were real and others fictitious. The resulting complex picture composition was intended to reflect the complexity of the visual information which modern humans have to interpret.













219   Unknown bird by Kōsuke Kimura, 580 mm x 400 mm,  lithograph entitled BIRD - N



(81) Akiko Yoshimura

Akiko is an illustrator who also makes screenprints. More than ten of these prints have included birds. Print 220 is a typical example. The birds were part of a central landscape scene framed by an elaborate border of flowers and leaves. The shapes of all objects were drawn accurately but Akiko used her imagination when coloring them. In print 220 the use of similar colors in the border and central scene unify the composition. The titles of Akiko’s prints suggest that she intended them to be used as gifts rather than to be mounted on the wall as pieces of fine art.
















220   Daurian redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) by Akiko Yoshimura, 215 mm x 225 mm, screenprint entitled Happy Wedding XXIV



(82) Fumio Kitaoka

During the last half of the twentieth century Fumio made more than ten woodblock prints featuring birds. His bird subjects were most often relatively large in size, for example the ptarmigans in print 221 and the whooper swans in print 123. Fumio often blended realism and abstraction by drawing the birds accurately but coloring the background in an abstract way. Print 221 is a good example.















221   Rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) by Fumio Kitaoka, 635 mm x 475 mm, woodblock print entitled ptarmigans



(83) Gorō Kumagai


During the past half century Gorō has made more than ten woodblock prints featuring birds. These birds were typically shown in a landscape scene (e.g., print 222). Both the birds and other objects in these scenes looked familiar but neither their shape nor color exactly matched those of real objects. In this print the birds’ wing shape and white color are similar to those of doves but only the artist knows their true identity. Gorō often included multiple copies of the same object in a picture which made it look somewhat like a decorative pattern. In this print he included three birds and two trees and superimposed them on a grid of squares. The irregular pattern of the woodblock’s grain also contributed to the patterned, decorative look of this print. Combining order (i.e., pattern) with disorder (i.e., semi-abstract objects) was a novel artistic approach.    



222   Unidentified bird by Gorō Kumagai, 405 mm x 525 mm, woodblock print



(84) Kaoru Saitō

Kaoru is a self-taught printmaker who specializes in the difficult mezzotint method of making intaglio prints. To date Kaoru has made more than ten prints with a bird subject. Print 223 is a typical example. Both the shape and surface detail of the bird were drawn very accurately but the bird’s true colors were reduced to shades of gray in most prints. The picture’s composition was usually relatively simple with the bird occupying a central position and a few other objects included to provide scale. The background was solid black which is standard for mezzotint prints. 

















223   Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer montanus) by Kaoru Saitō, 380 mm x 450 mm, intaglio print



(85) Toshio Suda

Like Kaoru Saitō above, Toshio specialized in making intaglio prints using the mezzotint technique. In the 1960s and 1970s he made more than ten prints which included birds. Toshio drew his bird subjects very accurately, similar to most other mezzotint printmakers. Some birds were colored using only shades of gray (e.g., print 224) while others were drawn in full color. He favored the horizontal format for his bird art which was sold either to be displayed on the wall or to be used as a book plate (i.e., ex libris).














224   Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) by Toshio Suda, 480 mm x 400 mm, intaglio print  entitled quail and Japanese lantern plant



(86) Morizaku Kumagai


Morikazu was primarily a painter but some of his art was also sold in print form, either as a woodblock print or a lithograph. Print 225 is one of more than ten of Morikazu’s artworks in which a bird was the picture’s main subject. The Eurasian bullfinch in print 225 was one of his favorites. Morikazu’s artistic style was typical of modernist artists working in the mid-twentieth century. The shapes of both the bird and any other objects included in the picture were simplified and often outlined. Objects were colored uniformly, as was the background, to create the impression of a flat picture plane (i.e., two-dimensional rather than three-dimensional).



225   Eurasian bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) by Morikazu Kumagai, 320 mm x 430 mm, lithograph



(87) Yasuo Kazuki


Yasuo was a painter who also made more than ten lithographs of birds during the 1950s and 1960s. Most of these prints showed a single bird in a simple setting. The fence in print 226 is an unusual setting and may reflect Yasuo’s personal experience with fences as a prisoner in a Siberian labor camp for two years after WW II. Yasuo drew pictures of many bird species but all were drawn in the same sketch-like way shown in print 226. Colors other than black and gray were used sparingly in Yasuo’s bird prints. The combination of dark colors and roughly drawn objects may trigger a feeling of unease or sadness. Such feelings are not unexpected when looking at Yasuo’s art.



226   White-naped crane (Grus vipio) by Yasuo Kazuki, 460 mm x 610 mm, lithograph



(88) Yoshiki Nonouchi

Like many modern painters, Yoshiki also made lithographic prints. Birds were among his favorite subjects, especially the Daurian redstart shown in print 227. This bird appears in about half of the more than ten bird prints that Yoshiki made during the late twentieth century. The bird was typically positioned slightly off-center in the picture and shown from either the rear or side. All of the objects included in a picture were drawn very accurately but background detail (e.g., sky, earth) was usually eliminated, presumably to focus the viewer’s attention on the picture’s bird subject.















227   Daurian redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) by Yoshiki Nonouchi, 420 mm x 340 mm, lithograph entitled bird



(89) Chiaki Suwama


Chiaki is a designer and illustrator who, to date, has made more than ten digital prints featuring birds. Print 228 is one example. She chose a wide range of bird species as subjects for her artwork and typically placed them in a landscape scene. Most scenes were vertically oriented. Both the birds and other objects in these scenes were drawn in a true-to-life way but some of the birds’ notable characteristics were often exaggerated for effect. For example, in print 228 the egrets’ outer feathers are much longer than those seen on real birds and their beaks are too stout. Chiaki’s intent was presumably to entertain viewers by drawing familiar birds in novel ways. More novel bird designs are shown on her website



228   Little egret (Egretta garzetta) by Chiaki Suwama, digital print






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