With a unique selection of over 200 Japanese colour woodblock prints from the first half of the 20th century, the exhibition shows the development of shin hanga (‘new prints’). The subjects range from female beauties and great actors of the kabuki theatre to atmospheric landscapes and impressive depictions of birds to scenes from modern urban life.
The 20th century is relatively overlooked period in Japanese printmaking. Since the 1990s, however, museums and private collectors have shown a growing interest in shin hanga (new prints). These beautiful designs are the fruit of the traditional yet highly successful collaboration between artist, publisher, block cutter and printer.
The driving force behind the commercial development of the shin hanga movement was the charismatic publisher Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885–1962). Under his influence many prints with an exclusive character and modern design were created.
Works by all the major shin hanga artists will be represented, depictions of "beautiful women" by the artists Hashiguchi Goyō, Torii Kotondo and Itō Shinsui or the impressive landscapes by the famous Kawase Hasui. It is not so much in their subject matter as through their visual language that shin hanga prints set themselves apart from their traditional precursors.
Where the classically depicted women were stylized and idealized, their more recent counter parts were based on real models and are charged with emotion. The shin hanga landscapes, meanwhile, are more impressionistic than figurative, using a range of colour nuances to achieve exceptionally atmospheric results. An astonishing degree of technical perfection is another feature of these prints.
The woodcuts selected for the exhibition come from two major Dutch private collections and from the family collection of Watanabe Shōzaburō, the most important publisher of Japanese prints of the 20th century. The selection is enriched by a newly acquired spectacular pair of folding screens by the painter and shin hanga artist Yoshida Hiroshi (1876–1950).
Großer Dank gebührt unseren Leihgebern
Fördererkreis des Museums für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln
Orientstiftung zur Förderung der Ostasiatischen Kunst
Tuesday to Sunday
11am – 5pm
Every first Thursday in the month
11am – 10pm
Closed Mondays; open on All Saints' Day
Museum is closed on December 24th, Christmas Day (25 Dec), New Year's Eve (31 Dec) and New Year's Day (1 Jan). Museum is opend on Easter Monday and Whit Monday.
€ 5.50 / reduced € 4
KölnTag on the first Thursday of the month (except public holidays): free admission to the Museum for all Cologne residents.
How to get here
Public transport: Tram routes 1 and 7 and bus route 142, alight at ‘Universitätsstrasse’
There is a car park at the museum
The museum is barrier-free. Disabled toilet available.