A very dynamic image by Kaoru Kawano of a large owl staring back at you, beautifully stylized. Sealed and pencil signed by the artist in the lower left corner (most others we’ve seen are without the pencil signature).
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition; margins intact, a clean verso, strong colors. Clean margins and a clean verso. Some overall and even toning to the paper.
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.
- “Kaoru Kawano,” The Art Institute of Chicago
- “Kaoru Kawano,” The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- “Sosaku Hanga: Creative Prints of Modern Japan,” The Art Story
- Merritt, Helen and Yamada, Nanako. “Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975.” University of Hawaii Press, 1992.
- Brown, Kendall. “Japanese Prints: The Art Institute of Chicago.” Thames & Hudson, 2013.
- “Kaoru Kawano,” The MET Museum