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Verne Gallery - A Gallery of Japanese Prints and Paintings
You are here > Online Catalog > Koshiro Onchi > Artist Biography

Onchi Koshiro is considered one of the leading innovative figures among Japan's twentieth-century artists.  He is credited with producing Japan's first purely abstract work Light Time in 1915.  He produced single sheet prints and book designs, as well as being a poet and art theorist. He began his career learning oil painting at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, going on to study sculpture, which he later abandoned. In 1911, under the influence of Takehisa Yumeji (1884-1934), Onchi began to design books and quickly became involved in producing print and poetry magazines. He designed the first edition of Hagiwara Sakutaro's(1886-1942) innovative collection of poems Tsuki ni hoeru (Howling at the Moon, 1917).

Onchi's contribution both as traditionalist and innovator can best be seen in his single-sheet prints. He was one of the founders of the sosaku hanga (creative print) movement. Unlike traditional commercial woodblock printmakers, these artists were inspired by painting and carried out every stage of production themselves: designing, cutting, and printing, then circulating the finished works to a relatively small élite circle. Onchi's prints are of four types: the traditional subjects of meisho (famous views) and bijin(beautiful women), portraits and abstracts. One of his most well-known portraits is the psychologically penetrating 1943 study of Hagiwara Sakutaro. Onchi started to make abstract prints at the beginning of the Taisho era (1912-26), and continued to experiment, drawing on traditional elements of Japanese color and decorative sense, combining them with motifs from international modernism. His prints were produced in very small editions, demonstrating his attitude to his works as one-offs, closer in spirit to paintings than to traditional woodblock prints.

Museums:
British Museum
Brooklyn Museum
Museum of Modern Art

Temple of Confucius - Onchi, Koshiro

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