Art Upgrade: Modern Japanese Printmaking Edition

At our local consignment auction, when it comes to artwork, floor position is everything. The best things are on the front wall. This is where they hang the listed artists or especially good images.

On a three sided freestanding wire wall in the furniture area are lesser pieces, once-good images that have fallen victim to time, groupings of just-okay things, reproductions, or marginal works in good frames. (It happens a lot - I buy art, and I buy frames, but rarely at the same time)

Then finally, along the back wall are what I call "the racks." This is where the crap goes. Occasionally sold choice for 5 or 10 bucks, but more often by the shelf, again usually for 5 to 10. You'll also find boxes of odd junk art here as well.

I always dig around though, because sometimes you find something like this.

I noticed it first because it was the tallest thing in the box, and stuck out from what looked to be 9 or 10 framed pieces of embroidered cloth in cheap wood frames. The surprise was that another regular, who rarely buys anything and almost never for much money, seemed to want that box too. Finally I gave up. But I liked the print, so I offered him 20 for it, and he said yes.
I tried to get a detail shot here but my camera seems to hate anything white. It's an original intaglio print by Kenji Ushiku, titled The Lake Festival. Framing was done by the Little Gallery here in Westwood Hills. The title card and gallery sticker were both still present on the back, unfortunately there was no date. The brass-wrapped wood frame makes me think 80's, but I don't know that.
I googled when I got home trying to date the print, but couldn't find it. I did find out that Mr. Ushiku was born in 1922 in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. He studied at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and was first published in Japan in the mid 1950's. He's since exhibited in Japan, Europe, and the US. There were a few auction results, and it looks like he sells in the 150-250 range. (So it's not the pay-off-the-car find, still dirt cheap for a nice piece) I found a 2005 print online, but nothing after, so I don't know if he's still working or not.
Tomorrow I've got to go to the frame shop to pick up the Cape Cormorin print (photos of it in it's gorgeous Roma moulding to follow), so I'll drop this off for matting while I decide on the frame.


Raina said...

You have such a fantastic eye. I just love seeing what you discover on your auction jaunts.

David said...

Thank you for the compliment. I'm not sure what I like most, the hunt, the find, or the end result when it's all reframed and on my wall.

Jill said...

I wish we had auctions of the things I miss the most about living in Houston. This is a lovely find. Well done!

Karena said...

Awesome print, love the style and palette. David how do I get to Westheights... directions, please? You can email me if you want Also I used to live in Westwood!

soodie :: said...

Nice print David, you have an eye for such finds!

There is a fabulous junk shop close to Westheights, have you been? I can't remember the name or the street it is on. It is on the corner on that major busy street. I'm awful that way, only knowing things by sight. You might find it interesting to rehab old furniture pieces, if you haven't already been. Make sure to go way in the back... I snagged a solid maple MCM dresser there and am doing car paint on it with saucy hardware.

Karena, you must do a drive thru in Westheights. Besides the LC houses (especially that incredible limestone one) it is a great neighboorhood tucked away.

David said...

Soodie, I have been by that shop a million times, always wondered, never stopped. I'll make a visit soon. You have to post pictures of your project when you're finished, I'm dying to see it!

ChrisToronto said...

Great colors, David, congrats.
In the past, I've also purchased items from the triumphant bidder exactly as you've described. Sometimes it's even better than winning the lot because usually you pay less for the single item -- everybody wins!

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