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Edutainment > Hide Kawanishi - 1894-1965

The prints created by sosaku hanga artist Hide Kawanishi have three outstanding characteristics: bold colors, the omission of black outlines typical for classical Japanese prints (ukiyo-e) and the focus on scenes from his beloved home town Kobe.

First Publication: June 2002 Latest Update: April 2013

A Proud Citizen of Kobe

Hide Kawanishi was born in Kobe as the son of an affluent family of merchants and ship-owners with a long tradition in commerce. His family by chance owned a privately run post office of which Hide took charge. When it was integrated into Japan's National Postal Service, Hide Kawanishi became a postal worker with a salary paid by the Japanese government.

Hide wanted to become an artist from childhood on. His father was opposed of course and wanted him to join the family's trade business. But his son went his own way. And like Umetaro Azechi, Kawanishi took part in a painting course by correspondence from Tokyo. Like many sosaku hanga artists, he was more or less self-taught.

No Admiration for Classical Ukiyo-e

Popular Hanga vol.1
Popular Hanga vol.1 - Hide Kawanishi - 1894-1965
Hide Kawanishi - 1894-1965
Beauties in Four Seasons
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Kawanishi had a liking for foreign art and none at all for classical ukiyo-e. He did not like the black outlines that are so characteristic for classical Japanese woodblock prints. In his own works he never used them. He thought that prints without outlines had more vitality.

The artist made several series:

  • Twelve Customs of Showa Beauties - 1929
  • Kobe Scenes in the Twelve Months - 1931
  • Scenery of Kobe - 1933-1935
  • One Hundred Kobe Prints - 1935
  • Scenes from a Port Town - 1941
  • One Hundred Views of Kobe - 1962

Kawanishi's prints are kept in strong colors. Helen Merritt characterizes his use of color so nicely in her book Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints - The Early Years:

"Hues applied at full saturation create a cacophony of color that is distinctly characteristic of Kawanishi's style."

As can be easily guessed from the titles of the series, the artist's interest and subjects were focused on his local home town Kobe. The prewar designs even gained historical importance, as many of the depicted monuments and buildings were destroyed by the air bombardments during the war.

Kawanishi had produced about a thousand print designs in his life. From most he drew only a few copies. He was not depending on making his living with his prints and therefore he could have cared less.

Medal Stuff for Kawanishi

Circus Horses
Circus Horses - Hide Kawanishi - 1894-1965
Hide Kawanishi - 1894-1965
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After the end of World War II, Kawanishi was awarded with several honors and medals - the Hyogo Prefecture Culture Prize in 1949 and the Kobe Shinbun Peace Prize in 1962 - and maybe with a few more.

More about Hide Kawanishi

37 sold object(s) by Hide Kawanishi 1894-1965 in our Art ArchiveGo to the Archive of sold items.

1 signature(s) by Hide Kawanishi in our Signature DatabaseGo to signatures of Japanese prints.

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Dieter WanczuraAuthor: Dieter Wanczura
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Literature sources used for this Hide Kawanishi biography

  • Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, "Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975", published by University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, ISBN 0-8248-1732-X
  • Helen Merritt, "Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints - The early years", published by University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1990, ISBN 0-8248-1200-X
  • Oliver Statler, "Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn", C. Tuttle, Tokyo, 1956, ISBN No. is 0-8048-0406-0

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