Ito Shinsui is one of the great names of the Shin Hanga art movement. His sensual, expressive depiction of bijin - beautiful young women - made him immortal. After World War II he was a publicly revered national celebrity and in 1952 the Japanese government declared the artwork of Ito Shinsui an Intangible National Treasure.
First Publication: , May 2002
Latest Update: July 2013
Ito Shinsui was born with the original name of Hajime in Tokyo. He was forced to start an apprenticeship in a Tokyo printing company at a very early age. Later he became a student of Kiyokata Kaburagi. When he was only 17 years old, he was admitted to exhibit at the Bunten exhibition. Like Kawase Hasui or Shiro Kasamatsu, also Ito was approached by the publisher Watanabe to design prints for him. The collaboration between the two men lasted for several decades until 1960. Not all Ito Shinsui prints were published by Watanabe. Other publishers were Isetatsu, the Yomiuri Newspaper Company and Katsumura.
Shunsui was a master of bijinga - images of beautiful women in a sensual, refined, technically perfect and appealing manner. The artist's bijinga are marked by a frequent use of a light gray background and red or blue colors in the garment. Another favorite subject were landscape prints. Here is a list of important print series.
After World War II Shunsui had become one of the best known and respected personalities in the public life of the Japanese society. In 1952 his art work was declared an Intangible Living Treasure, one of the highest official awards an artist could receive. And in 1970 the artist was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun.
Author: Dieter Wanczura