About Japan Print Association

 History of the Japan Print Association

The Japan Print Association was founded in January 1931, primarily by members of Nihon Sosaku-hanga Kyokai (the Japan Creative Print Art Association, formed in 1918) and Yofu-hanga Kyokai (the Western-Style Print Art Association, formed in 1929) as well as unaffiliated artists. There were 42 members at the start. With Okada Saburosuke as chairman and members including Asahi Masahide, Ishii Tsuruzo, Oda Kazuma, Onchi Koshiro, Kawakami Sumio, Koizumi Kishio, Nagase Yoshiro, Hasegawa Kiyoshi, Hiratsuka Unichi, Fujimori Shizuo, Henmi Takashi, Maekawa Senpan, and Yamamoto Kanae, they represented a who’s-who of creative printmaking in Japan at the time.

The organization’s stated purpose was “promotion of the art of printmaking,” and specific objectives included (1) International exhibition of Japanese prints, (2) Encouragement of establishment of printmaking departments at public art schools, and (3) Exhibition of new prints on a regular basis.

The first objective, “International exhibition of Japanese prints,” was first met in Paris in 1934 with the exhibition Contemporary Japanese Printmaking and Its Sources, and further shows of current Japanese prints were held in Geneva and Madrid in 1936 and toured nine European and American cities including San Francisco, New York, London, Lyon and Berlin in 1936-7. After World War II, the Japan Print Association organized many overseas exhibitions in countries such as the US, Israel, Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Poland, Mexico, Yugoslavia, and Taiwan, and many members won awards at international exhibitions, playing a crucial role in the internationalization of contemporary Japanese printmaking.

The second objective, “Encouragement of establishment of printmaking departments at public art schools,” had been an issue since the preceding Nihon Sosaku-hanga Kyokai (Japan Creative Print Art Association) era. In 1935, the Tokyo School of Fine Arts opened a “temporary printmaking class,” which seemed to bring the goal a step closer to realization, but it was discontinued during the war in 1944, and was not officially established until 1958 at the school’s successor, Tokyo University of the Arts. Since then, thanks to the efforts of many members, printmaking departments have been established at Japan’s major art universities, and it has become a thriving sector of art education.

As for the third objective, “Exhibition of new prints on a regular basis,” the first such print exhibition was held in September 1931, and except for 1934 when it was held in Paris and 1945 during the turmoil at the end of World War II, it has taken place annually without fail up to this year.

This exhibition features not only works by members, but also a section presenting prints by members of the general public, established in order to discover and nurture new artists from both Japan and overseas on an ongoing basis. Also, there are special invitational exhibitions featuring the works of overseas artists, held on an irregular basis, to foster active exchange with overseas printmakers.

In addition, a “touring exhibition” program has been implemented since the prewar era, and the association’s touring exhibitions have been held in various locations. In 1972, it was concluded that the initial objective of popularizing contemporary Japanese prints had been achieved and it was discontinued, but it was revived in 1982 and continues to this day.

The Association was incorporated in 1970, and attained the status of a general incorporated association in September 2013. As the only group of professional printmakers in Japan, the Association continues to carry out a wide range of artistic activities, and aspires to contribute to the advancement of contemporary printmaking both in Japan and abroad. .