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Reference » Ukiyo-e »  Artists Biographies

Junichiro Sekino 1914-1988

Junichiro Sekino, a painter, graphic designer and a woodblock print maker was one of the greatest artists of the Sosaku Hanga movement- an important current of Japanese art. Sekino was stylistically and technically extremely diverse: he easily switched from figurative to abstract art, from black and white compositions to colourful expression. He was also flexible subjects-wise. The exquisite technical background and experience in Japanese and Western printmaking has put him ahead of many other Sosaku Hanga artists, who although good designers, lacked the technical skills. Sekino sometimes resorted to mixing Western and Japanese techniques in his works.

He grew up in Aomori City alongside Shiko Munakata, the future 'Japanese Picasso', studying printmaking and oil painting. 1936 brought him a prestigious Bunten award for his etching, awarded by the government, and all the more impressive, as received by Sekino at such tender age. In 1939 he moved to the capital, where he came across the Sosaku Hanga movement and studied under its fathers: Koshiro Onchi. He kept a dual direction of his studies: traditional Japanese woodblock printing techniques as well as Western ones, modeling himself on the great artists of Japan and West.

During the war Sekino worked in a factory producing ammunition, as artistic life in Japan in those harsh years had literally reached a standstill. After the war Sekino struggled to survive producing book illustrations. The 1950's were a better time for Sekino and he launched his first show in Tokyo in 1953. His works were also exhibited outside Japan and bought internationally by such European and American giants as the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York, or The Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 1958 came an official invitation from the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Japan Society. From then on he travelled and taught around the world. From 1965 onwards he held a position at Kobe University.