Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan

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9780295986241: Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan
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Book by Keyes Roger S

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"... Roger Keys eloquently implores his readers to better appreciate the aesthetics of the books themselves, as well as the artistic sensibility of their makers. THe remarkable collection about which he writes, containing three hundred manuscripts and fifteen hundred printed books, has lonng been know about by scholars, but this publication marks its first borad introduction to the general public, through a selection of seventy works."-- IIAS Newsletter #45 Autumn 2007

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'Ehon' - or 'picture books' - are part of an incomparable 1,200-year-old Japanese tradition. Created by artists and craftsmen, most ehon also feature essays, poems or other texts written in beautifully distinctive calligraphy. In this elegant and richly illustrated book, Roger Keyes traces the history and evolution of these remarkable books. The earliest ehon were made as religious offerings or talismans, but their great flowering began in the early modern period (1600-1868) and has continued, with new media and new styles and subjects, to the present."Shiohi no tsuto" ("Gifts of the Ebb Tide", 1789; often called "The Shell Book") by Kitagawa Utamaro, one of the supreme achievements of the ehon tradition, is reproduced in full. "Michimori" (ca. 1604), a luxuriously produced libretto for a Noplay is also featured, as are Saito- Shu-ho's cheerful "Kishi empu" ("Mr. Ginger's Book of Love", 1803), Kamisaka Sekka's brilliant "Momoyogusa" ("Flowers of a Hundred Worlds", 1910), and many more."Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan" ends with ehon by some of the most innovative practitioners of the twentieth century. Among these are "Chizu" ("The Map", 1965), Kawada Kikuji's profound photographic requiem for Hiroshima; Yoko Tawada's and Stephan Kohler's affecting "Ein Gedicht fur ein Buch" ("A Poem for a Book", 1996); and Vija Celmins' and Eliot Weinberger's "Hoshi" ("The Stars", 2005). The magnificent ehon tradition originated in Japan and developed there under very specific conditions, but it has long since burst its bounds, like any living tradition. "Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan" suggests that when artists meet readers in these contrived, protected, focused, sacred book 'worlds', the possibilities for pleasure, insight, and inspiration are limitless.

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