c. 1980 photo of artist courtesy Penelope Moore
Hiratsuka Un'ichi 平塚運一 (1895-1997)
Hiratsuka was one of the two most prominent leaders of the sōsaku hanga movement, along with Onchi Kōshirō (1891-1955). In 1935 Hiratsuka taught the first woodblock printing course at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. He moved to Washington D.C. in 1962, and spent thirty three years in the States. While living in Washington DC, he was commissioned by three standing Presidents to carve woodblock prints of National Landmarks, which included the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Library of Congress which are in the collections of The National Gallery and Freer Gallery today. Hiratsuka was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government in 1970. In 1991, the Hiratsuka Unichi Hanga Museum was opened in Suzaka City, Naga Prefecture. He returned to Japan in 1994 for his final years.
Kitsutsuki Club Magazine Vol. 2
By the mid-1920s Hiratsuka had emerged as one of the most active and influential artists in the sosaku hanga movement. He was the "practical leader" of the sōsaku hanga movement while Onchi Kōshirō (1891-1955) was its "intellectual and spiritual leader."4 He founded and was active in many artists' organizations such as the Nikakai and later the Nihon Sōsaku hangaosaku-Hanga Kyōkai and the Kokugakai. (See the Glossary for information on these artist organizations.) In Tokyo he worked for a number of art and related magazines and throughout his career he was instrumental in publishing many small art magazines. He taught many young artists who "flocked to his studio for help and encouragement."5 His leadership role in the sōsaku hanga movement was recognized through the spawning of a number of artist groups which called themselves Kitsutsuki (Woodpecker), after Hiratsuka's print Kitsutsuki was published in the magazine Hanga.6 In 1927 he published the book Hanga no giho (Print Techniques.)
Shin Tokyo hayakkei (One Hundred Views of Tokyo)
2 Hiratsuka: Modern Master, Helen Merritt, et. al., Art Institute of Chicago, 2001, p.14.
Hiratsuka carving, 1982
Black and White Prints
1 Japanese Wood-block Prints, Shizuya Fujikake, Japan Travel Bureau, 1938 revised 1949, p. 146.
2 Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn, Oliver Statler, Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1956, p. 37.
3 "Unichi Hiratsuka, Sosaku-Hanga Master" website of the grandchildren of the artist http://www.unichihiratsuka.com/ [accessed 10-26-23]
Living in the United States
Return to Japan
A Note on the Artist's Given Name
Seals and Signatures
Notes on Editions
Literature and Websites
Prints in Collection
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