Japanese Woodblock Prints On View at The Ringling

The pieces at the museum's center for Asian art date from the post World War II era.

By Kay Kipling November 19, 2018

Poem Number 23, Fish: 1954, multi-block print; ink and color on paper, by Onchi Koshiro. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Karl A. Bickel

Japanese woodblock prints of the postwar era in Japan are the subject of the first exhibition curated by Dr. Rhiannon Paget, curator for Asian art, in the newly renamed Chao Center for Asian Art at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The exhibition, which opened Nov. 18 and continues through May 5, 2019, draws from the museum’s holdings and from local collectors, including gifts from Charles and Robyn Citrin and Mr. and Mrs. Karl A. Bickel. (Bickel, the longtime head of UPI, was a well-traveled Sarasotan and major player in the area’s history in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s especially.)

Stepping Stones in the Afternoon, 1960; woodblock print; ink and color on paper, by Hiratsuka Un'ichi. Gift of Charles and Robyn Citrin, 2017

The techniques used by the artists vary, as do the style and content, but the 18 works in the show derive from the 20th-century creative print movement, as opposed to the earlier commercial prints familiar in Japan from the 17th through the 19th centuries. These later artists were trained in the Western style of oil painting as well as in their own traditional woodblock printing, and their works became popular with Western collectors after World War II. (Writer James Michener, who penned the tales that led to the musical South Pacific, was a collector, for example.)

Red Wall, 1992, photo etching and color woodblock print; ink and color on paper, by Yoshida Hodaka. Gift of Gordon Brodfuehrer, 2018.

Subjects of the prints range from Japanese gardens to Paris scenes like the Eiffel Tower to fish and flowers. For more information about Woodblock Prints from Postwar Japan, visit


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