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Nude by Hirano Hakuho

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Directory: Fine Art: Prints: Woodcuts: Pre 1920: Item # 658260

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524 North Washington Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

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Hirano Hakuho (Japanese, 1879-1957)

Nude Arranging Her Hair

Woodcut on paper, signed lower right in pencil. Seal on print, lower left.

Sheet size: 15.75” x 10.5”
Sight size: 14.75” x 10.25”
Frame: 20.25” x 16.25”

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Born in Kyoto, painter and printmaker Hirano Hakuho was self-taught. In the early 1930’s he collaborated with Tokyo publisher Watanabe Shozaburo to produce a series of six prints of women at their leisure-- after a bath or before a mirror--recalling ukiyo-e of geisha and courtesans.

Watanabe promoted the shin hanga or new print movement where artists incorporated Western elements into traditional Japanese print imagery. Offering a modern spin on ukyio-e, Hakuho often depicts women from behind, deliberately hiding the face to convey both intimacy and reserve. In Nude Arranging Her Hair, a woman crouches before her dressing table, delicately pushing a hair pin just so. With her arm obscuring her face, she seems comfortably unselfconscious as opposed to sexual. Yet the emphasis on her neck and back, thought to be particularly erotic by Japanese viewers, suggests a certain frisson.

Hakuho is represented in the collections of the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.