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Maeda Masao (1904-1974)


Biographical Data

Biography

Maeda Masao 前田 政雄 or 前田 正夫  (1904-1974)

Source: Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989, Lawrence Smith, British Museum Press, 1994, p. 29.
Maeda was born in Hakodate, island of Hokkaido, and met Hiratsuka Un'ichi (1895-1997), a leader of the sosaku hanga print movement, there in 1923.  He moved to Tokyo in 1925 and joined the private Kawabata Painting School, moving on to more thoroughly study Western-style painting (yoga) with Umehara Ryuzauro (1888-1986), who knew Hiratsuka.  At first he painted in oils, but by associating with Hiratsuka in the so-called Yoyogi Group (print artists who gathered at Hiratsuka's house in the Yoyogi district of Tokyo in the 1930s) and in the Kokuga-kai (National Painting Association) he learned woodblock techniques and began to make and exhibit prints in the 1930s.  In 1940 he turned exclusively to prints.  He was a member of Onchi Koshiro's (1891-1955), another leader of the sosaku hanga print movement, Ichimoku-kai1 (First Thursday Society).  He contributed to One Hundred New Views of Japan (1940), the two Kitsutsuki Hanga-shu collections (1942-3) and nos 3-6 of the Ichimokushu collections (1947-50), as well as Tokyo Kaiko Zue (Scenes of Lost Tokyo) (1945) and Nihon Minzoku Zufu (1946).  He was publicized by Oliver Statler in his book Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: An Art Reborn (1956) (where his date of birth is given as 1906.)  A typical sosaku hanga group artist in many ways, Maeda nevertheless showed untypically the influence of Nihonga native-style painting.  He also produced fine mountain scenes a little in the vein of Umetaro Azechi (1902-1999).

The Artist Words on Woodblock Prints

Source: Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn, Oliver Statler, Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1956, p. 132
"I think that woodprints suit the character of a Japanese.  The materials are close to our life: wood, paper, even the baren with its bamboo cover.  I think of trying etchings and lithographs but I never get around to them, and though I like Onchi's ideas of utilizing all sorts of odd materials, I just can't get away from wood."

1The Ichimokukai – The First Thursday Society, which was crucial to the postwar revival of Japanese prints, was formed in 1939 by the group of people who gathered in the house of Kôshirô Onchi in Tokyo. The group met once a month to discuss print related issues.

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