Ioan Paul Colta
Complexul Muzeal Arad / West University of Timișoara. Curator / PhD Candidate

Kuchi-e woodblock prints and the late Meiji literature. Case study: the collaboration between Kaburaki Kiyokata and Kyōka Izumi

The current paper talks about the fruitful collaboration between the artist Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972) and the highly praised Meiji author Kyōka Izumi (1873-1939). The famous nihonga painter has initially made his living as an illustrator, producing kuchi-e woodblock prints, frontispieces illustrating popular novels from the late Meiji period. His prints were admired by Kyōka Izumi who desired that his books would also include kuchi-e prints done by Kaburaki. 

At a time when it seemed that the Western reprographic techniques, such as metal type printing or lithography, were fast replacing the traditional woodcut technique, color woodblock prints were granted new life as frontispiece illustrations for works of modern fiction. This type of high quality, delicately carved hand-printed illustrations were bound into novels and magazines as luxurious supplements.

Evolving at the same time as the creative literary outburst of the late Meiji era, the content and style of the kuchi-e prints reflect the taste of a more sophisticated audience.