• Anthony Wu

A Summer of Reminisce with Kawase Hasui

I can't believe summer is almost over! This means that the Asian art auction season will be commencing once again (and A LOT of my ongoing Asian art appraisals will be due soon!).


The first big stop for me will be Asia Week New York from September 14th to 18th. New York will feature some major Asian art highlights at the international auction houses Bonhams, Christie's and Sotheby's. There will also be some feature lots at the regional auction houses Doyle, Hindman, and Heritage.


Over the past few months I've seen some photos already of the top pieces, and this includes Chinese porcelain, jade carvings and archaic bronzes, Himalayan and Indian sculpture, and Japanese woodblock prints. I'll definitely be sharing some of these September Asian art highlights in an upcoming post!


Anyways, for this blog, I wanted to share my profound admiration for the work by Japanese shin-hanga woodblock print master Kawase Hasui (1883-1957). Hasui is by far my favourite woodblock print artist, and I have been collecting his works for about 15 years.


I've written about Kawase Hasui in the past, either through my Instagram posts or a more profound blog I put together for Bidsquare a couple of years ago.


Hasui was one of the leaders of the Japanese shin-hanga (new print) movement from the early 20th Century. These types of prints tend to have a more Western aesthetic to them through the use of shading, perspective and colours.


Over his lifetime, Hasui designed over 600 woodblock prints with his primary publisher Shozaburo Watanabe (1885-1962). In 1956, Hasui was recognized by the Japanese government as a Living National Treasure.

Hasui's prints are recognizable for his scenes of temples, Japanese architecture, landscapes and villages. To add drama, many of his views will include atmospheric conditions such as rain, snow, and night.


One of the reasons why I admire Hasui's works so much is that his prints depict a pre-modern Japan. Many of these works depict figures that still wear traditional clothing despite being from the early 20th Century.


Other Hasui prints offer a modern snapshot of a landscape or structure that could have easily taken place 100 or 200 years earlier. These images evoke a sense of longing and nostalgia, whether or not you have visited Japan in the past.


Over the years, I was fortunate to have built up a collection of approximately 30 original Kawase Hasui prints. For the spirit of summer (or what's left of it!), I selected a few that evoke the summer months. Hope you enjoy them!


Image 1. The Nikko Highway (1930)


Image 2. The Great Buddha, Kamakura (1930)


Image 3. Pine Beach at Miho (1931)


Image 4. Lake Haruna (1935)


Image 5. The Ruins of Fukuoka Castle (1940)


Image 6. Hall of the Great Buddha (1950)

So that's it for this post, and hopefully you all enjoyed a viewing of prints from my personal Kawase Hasui collection. If I get some positive feedback, I'll definitely be showcasing more of these prints in future posts.


In the meantime, please be on the lookout for my upcoming blog about my trip to Asia Week New York, and for highlights from my Asian art auction at Heffel Gallery!

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