Ukiyo-e, or images of the Floating World take as their subject the evanescent floating world that exists between imagination and reality; mythology and history; a view caught in a glance; a wisp of hair along a graceful jaw-line; a sudden shower of rain; a crashing wave; a dramatic landscape or spectacular erotic images intensified by the imagination of the artist. This genre of woodblock prints and paintings flourished in the Edo period (1603 – 1867).
Meiji prints were produced during the 44 year period from 1868 – 1912. Meiji translates to “Enlightened Rule”, and the period is associated with a spectacular modernization in Japan which brought the country from a medieval society to economic and military power in Asia. Accordingly, Meiji prints are characterized by liberal use of bright colors produced by synthetic dyes (Analine Dye). Scenes of Meiji prints range from traditional ukiyo-e themes to current events and news from the front.
Shin- Hanga (New Prints) are 20th Century Japanese prints made by the same traditional system used to produce ukiyo-e, but most shin hanga prints are distinctly different from traditional ukiyo-e in their looks (western style); and tactile quality (of the modern paper and pigments). Shin hanga prints typically fall into the categories of: landscapes, birds and flowers, beauties and actors.
Sosaku Hanga, (Creative Print). To produce sosaku prints, the artist takes the lead, or is the sole producer of the print from concept to carving the blocks and self-printing the image. Production of sosaku prints, started about the same years as the shin-hanga movement, but was touted as an avant-garde genre using traditional techniques to produce modern and abstract imagery.
Japanese painting is one of the oldest and most highly refined of the Japanese visual arts, encompassing a wide variety of genres and styles. The long history of Japanese painting exhibits synthesis and competition between native Japanese aesthetics and the adaptation of imported idea. Imagery originated mainly from Chinese painting which was especially influential at a number of points; significant Western influence only comes from the later 16th century onwards, beginning at the same time as Japanese art was influencing that of the West.