Maki Haku 巻白 (1924-2000)
Tortoise 亀, 1977
Popular Print Subjects for the Artist
BIOGRAPHYSources: The Life and Works of Haku Maki, Daniel Tretiak, Outskirt Press, Inc., 2007; 44 Modern Japanese Print Artists, Gaston Petit, Kodansha International Ltd., 1973; Evolving Techniques in Japanese Woodblock Prints, Gaston Petit and Amadio Arboleda, Kodansha International Ltd.,1977.
An early Maki woodblock print
Symbol 2, 1957
San Mon Ban (portfolios of small prints)
Volume 1, 1975
The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation by James Michener
Festive Wine, Ancient Japanese Poems from the Kinkafu, 1969 containing twenty-one Maki prints
The James Michener Portfolio and
Festive Wine: Ancient Japanese Poems from the Kinkafu
In 1962 his woodblock print Ox (see this collection’s print IHL Cat. #1336h) was one of ten prints chosen for James Michener’s seminal work and portfolio of prints The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation. This book along with the 1969 award-winning (receiving the Mainichi International Publishing Culture award) book Festive Wine, a translation of twenty-one 5th to 9th century poems, each accompanied by a Maki print, popularized his work internationally and increased the audience for his prints.
The works he is best known for are his prints of kanji characters drawn in calligraphic form, sometimes producing characters that bear minimal resemblance to the actual character. In commenting on Maki’s style, one of the authors of Festive Wine wrote: "Maki himself referred to the style he based his hanga on as shōkei moji which is the Japanese translation of hieroglyphics. What he meant by this was that he took kanji in their current shape and used his imagination to create what he thought may have been the original pictograph behind them. This is especially evident in his renderings of the character for Woman 女 (Poem 5) and Wife 妻 (Poem 21) [both shown below], where he imbues them with feminine grace and suppleness."6
One of Maki's last prints in the year before his death.
Work Z - 446b, 1999
Beyond these “kanji” prints, Maki chose pottery (particularly, ceramic vessels such as tokkuri, sake cups, tea bowls), ancient clay funerary figures and fruit (particularly pomegranates) as favorite subjects for many of his prints. Large numbers of his prints also carry the title “Poem” followed by a number, perhaps in homage to his mentor Onchi many of whose prints carry the title poem or were inspired by poetry. Late in his career Maki also produced prints depicting multi-color go boards and some geometric pattern works and a small number of prints depicting Mount Fuji. His last known prints were simple woodblocks of traditional sail boats.
Signatures and Seals of the Artist
Commonly seen signatures on Maki prints
Maki's seals - scripted seals reading either 白巻 (Haku Maki), or just 巻 (Maki) or 白 (Haku)
My Personal Favorite
Poem 70-72, 1970
1 Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 185
Prints in Collection
click on thumbnail for print details