Magazine article Arts & Activities

Classroom Use of the Art Print

Magazine article Arts & Activities

Classroom Use of the Art Print

Article excerpt


Kobayashi Eitaku (Japanese; 1843-1890). The Snowman, from the series "Children's Games," 1888. Color woodcut. Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design, London, England.

THINGS TO KNOW Like hundreds of secondary Japanese printmakers working in the 19th century, little biographical information is known on this month's Clip & Save artist, Kobayashi Eitaku. The son of a fisherman, Kobayashi trained with the master artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Research shows that he is more renowned as a painter, and for his works depicting scenes from Japanese mythology. Stylistically, his work is part of the Kano school of painting.

"The Kano school was the longest lived and most influential school of painting in Japanese history; its more than 300-year prominence is unique in world art history. Working from the 15th century into modern times, this hereditary assemblage of professional, secular painters succeeded in attracting numerous patrons from most affluent social classes by developing, mastering, and promoting a broad range of painting styles, pictorial themes, and formats." (Source: Later in his career Kobayashi became the official painter to the Ii family, nobles of Hikone.

It was not uncommon for masters to assign multiple spoken and written names to their students. Kobayashi was also known as Shujiro, Tokusen, Sensai Eitaku, Issensai, Baikado, Kado and Mugyo. These multiple names make researching and cataloging the works of Japanese printmakers a challenging task.

Koybayashi's graphic works belong to a genre known as Ukiyo-e. Translated as "the floating world," Ukiyo-e imagery depicts the pleasures of daily life and the beauty of the natural world. Common subjects include people at play, landscapes (often depicting the weather), geisha and beautiful women, and scenes of mothers with their children. More mature themes common to the genre are erotica (shunga) and highly dramatic moments from Japanese theater.

This month's art selection is one of a series of woodblock prints called "Children's Games," depicting children engaging in popular games such as spinning tops, bubble blowing, backgammon, shuttlecocks and make-believe. To view images from this series, go to: artist/10453/Kobayashi_Eitaku.

Kobayashi's work was included in the 2007 exhibit "Modern Art in Wanderings: In Between the Japanese- and Western-style Paintings" at the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Japan. Japanese prints were popular in late 19th-century Paris, and had a strong influence on many artists, including Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt and Pierre Bonnard, to name but a few.


* Primary. In this month's Art Print, students will see one of winter's most delightful playtime activities: building a snowman. Share the print with students and ask them to describe what they see. Although the children in the composition wear late 19th-century Japanese clothing, their play is timeless. Point out to students some of the details that ground this work in realism (one child stands on a bucket to reach the top of the snowman, one child gathers snow into a ball, one child provides direction, a little dog observes the action).

After students have had enough time to thoroughly study and discuss the image, provide them with paper and pencil and challenge them to design a 21st-century snowman. …

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