Ogata, Gekkō (1859-1920)

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Ogata, Gekkō (1859-1920)

Ogata Gekkō was born Nakagami Masanosuke in the Kobayashi district of Edo (modern day Tokyo), and lived most of his life in the Kobayashi district in Oke-cho. Orphaned at 16, Gekkō survived by decorating rickshaws and selling his drawings. Recognizing his exceptional talent, Ogata Koya adopted him and the young artist appended the Ogata family name to the name he gave himself, Gekkō (Moonlight). He never attended art school himself, nor be am apprentice in a print maker’s studio. Because he was self-taught and began his career as a painter and illustrator, he achieved a painterly look that was thought impossible for prints. They have the illusion of brushstrokes, the colors blend into each other and are awash, and the perspectives are unique to Gekkō. Along with Watanabe Seitei, he developed the sashiage technique, which simulates watercolor effects in woodblock printing. Although modern in technique, Gekkō was firmly rooted in the ukiyo-e tradition. His many series of prints included a Tale of Genji series and a 47 Ronin series of prints. Other print series dealt with contemporary practices, pretty women, flowers, and famous places.

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