Kaoru Kawano – Kokeshi (pencil signed & numbered)


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Additional information


Kawano, Kaoru


(A+) Excellent Condition




First Edition, Numbered


Sosaku hanga


Self published


Double Oban

This print by Kaoru Kawano of Kokeshi is not like the versions seen elsewhere for sale. Those prints are almost always oban-sized prints with extra margins, measuring roughly 11″ x 18″, sealed by the artist in the lower left quadrant. No signature or numbering.

This print is instead measuring 15″ x 22″, with margins bringing the paper to 18″ x 24″ (significantly larger). It is sealed in the lower right quadrant, and then has the title, signature, and numbering (2/100) in pencil in the bottom margin.

We believe this print to be the original “first edition” with the later “open edition” being the smaller and unsigned versions. The only other numbered copy we can find of this print is in the Harvard University collection and it is numbered 22/100.

Kokeshi are simple wooden Japanese dolls with no arms or legs that have been crafted for more than 150 years as a toy for children. Originally from the northeastern region (Tōhoku-chihō) of Japan, they are handmade from wood, having a simple trunk and head with a few thin, painted lines to define the face. The body often has floral and/or ring designs painted in red, black, and sometimes green, purple, blue, or yellow inks, and covered with a layer of wax. One characteristic of kokeshi dolls is their lack of arms or legs.

The Woodblock Print

This pencil signed and numbered edition double-oban print is in excellent condition without any notable blemishes. Fully intact margins, a clean verso with bleed through. Deckled edges on the paper as it is a full sheet. The richness of the color is not fully captured in the scan due to the mica used in the pigment, which when viewed in person gives it a rich and sparkly depth of color (but results in a muted scan).

About the Artist

Kaoru Kawano (河野薫, 1926-1989) was a Japanese printmaker who worked during the Showa period and is known for his contributions to the sosaku hanga movement, a modernist approach to woodblock printmaking that emphasized the artist’s individual creativity and technique. Kawano was born in Hokkaido, Japan, in 1916 and began studying art at an early age. He initially focused on oil painting but later turned to woodblock printmaking.

Kawano’s work is characterized by his use of bold, bright colors and simple, stylized forms. He often depicted traditional Japanese subjects, such as geisha, kabuki actors, and landscapes, but gave them a modern twist. His prints have a distinctive, graphic quality that sets them apart from the more detailed and intricate prints of earlier periods.

Kawano was a prolific artist and produced hundreds of prints over the course of his career. He exhibited his work in Japan and also gained international recognition. His prints were particularly popular in the United States, where they were well received by collectors and critics.

Despite his success, Kawano was known for his modesty and lived a simple life. He continued to produce prints until his death in 1965, at the age of 49. His legacy as one of the leading artists of the sosaku hanga movement continues to influence contemporary Japanese art and printmaking.

Note when buying: Kaoru Kawano’s prints can be categorized into two groupings: oversized numbered editions of 50, 100, or 200, or open editions that are pencil signed but not numbered.