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Tsukioka Kogyo (1869-1927)
Kogyo was born the year after the beginning of the Meiji restoration, which brought Japan into the modern Western world. While this was to be a period of great political and social upheaval in Japanese society, Kōgyo’s work was largely focused on the traditional, the theater of Noh. In his lifetime he created over 550 prints, in three major print series, documenting Noh performances, with particular focus on the costumes and poses of the actors. These prints were widely distributed, many appearing in magazines, books and posters.1 At the age of fifteen he apprenticed with the great woodblock artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), who had married his mother. His interest in Noh was likely sparked by Yoshitoshi, who had a “lifelong fascination with Noh.”2 After Yoshitoshi’s death, he went on to study with the painter and woodblock artist Ogata Gekkō (1859-1920), who likely was instrumental in the development of Kōgyo’s watercolor-like, painterly style and his synthesis of Western and traditional Japanese artistic styles. The Noh prints created by Kōgyo serve as “an artistically elegant and beautiful record of this theatrical genre’s customs and performances”3 that “stand in their own right as works of art.”4
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