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Behind the Stage from the series The Face of Tokyo


Japanese Woodblock Print

Behind the Stage

from the series The Face of Tokyo

by Kitaoka Fumio, 1949

Midday at the Beach
IHL Cat. #642

About This Print

Titled, Behind the Stage 舞台裏we're shown stage-hands building a set for an unknown play. This print, dated 1949, was issued as part of the series 戦後風俗 (Sengo fūzoku), translated as "Post-war Life and Customs" and subsequently included in the 1950-1951 five-part portfolio (each portfolio containing five prints,) titled The Face of Tokyo 版画集「東京の顔 Kitaoka used a mica impregnated paper for this 1949 print and the print included in the later portfolio.

Central Gallery label packaged with this print

KITAOKA, Fumio   1918 - 2007
4.Behind the Stage from "The Face of Tokyo No. 4" 1951
woodcut on paper, 12.1×15 cm
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Fumio Kitaoka 1918-2007
Butaiura (Back Stage), 1951

From the series, "Tokyo no Kao" (The Face of Tokyo)
artelino Japanese prints website archive

This collection's print and images of the 1950 dated print appear to be identical and it is possible that a second printing was done by Kitaoka to create the five-part portfolio The Face of Tokyo 東京の顔

The Portfolio The Face of Tokyo

This beautifully designed and, unfortunately, overlooked series portrays post-war Tokyo in the social-realist style that Kitaoka embraced after the war and later rejected, telling Statler "I rebelled against their [Japan's proletarian artists] subjugation of art to politics..."1

Five prints in the series, noted in the below list of titles in the portfolio, were printed in color and the remainder were monochrome prints.

For other prints in the Collection from this series see Around Ochanomizu (Kanda River), Outside Shinjuku Station, the West Exit and Playing Bingo.

Images of the entire series, titles listed below, are in the collection of The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and can be viewed at the website of the Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Art at http://search.artmuseums.go.jp/search_e/sakuhin_list.php?sakka=601 Note that the images are in black and white, so

"The Face of Tokyo No.1", 1950
1.The Jimbocho Bookstore District
2.The Kanda River
3.The Unemployment Office in Iidabashi
4.A Night Game of Baceball [sic] (color woodblock)
5.The Nikkatsu Movie Theater in Kanda

"The Face of Tokyo No.2", 1950
1.Playing Bingo
2.Outside Shinjuku Station, the East Exit
3.Shinjuku at Night (color woodblock)
4.Outside Shinjuku Station, the West Exit
5.The Shinjuku Imperial Garden 

"The Face of Tokyo No.3", 1950
1.Sukiyabashi Bridge
2.Ginza in Christmas Season
3.Hibiya Park (color woodblock)
4.Strip Show at the Nichigeki Theater
5.Under the Railroad Overpass at Yurakucho

The Face of Tokyo No.4" , 1951
1.City at Rest
2.Ginza at New Year
3.Ginza on a Rainy Day (color woodblock)
4.Behind the Stage
5.Back Street of Ginza at New Year

"The Face of Tokyo No.5" , 1951
1.Inside Ueno Station
2.Step Leading to Ueno Park
3.Shinobazu Pond (color woodblock)
4.The Ameyoko District
5.Ueno Zoo

1 Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn, Oliver Statler, Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1956, p.153.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #642
 Title  Behind the Stage 舞台裏
 Series  originally issued as part of the series Post-war life & customs (戦後風俗 Sengo fuuzoku) and in 1951 as part of the portfolio The Face of Tokyo (No. 4) 東京の顔
 Kitaoka Fumio (1918-2007)
 pencil signed by artist "F. Kitaoka" in English below the image and printed "F.K." lower right corner of image.
 Seal  unsealed
 Publication Date  1949
 Edition  unnumbered
 Publisher  self-published
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent - print was professionally conserved to remove overall toning, mat line and foxing primarily visible in margins
 Genre  sosaku hanga (creative print)
 Miscellaneous  mica impregnated paper
 H x W Paper  7 1/2 x 8 7/8 in. (19.1 x 22.5 cm)
 H x W Image   4 7/8 x 5 3/4 in.  (12.4 x 14.6 cm)
 Collections This Print  The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo M00107-019
 Reference Literature  
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