Kasamatsu Shiro

Japanese 1898-1991



At just thirteen, Kasamatsu Shiro became a student of Kaburagi Kiyokatu, a master of the bijin-ga genre. By 1919 shiro had already been shown at several major exhibitions, and at the government sponsored Bunten, his landscapes grabbed the attention of Watanabe Shozaburo who approached Shiro about designing woodblock prints.


Watanabe was a prominent Tokyo publisher central to the “Shin Hanga,” a movement concerned with re-establishing the importance of the traditional Japanese woodcut. A working relationship between the two lasted twenty-five years, with Shiro establishing a following of collectors—westerners being particularly intrigued with his woodcuts of Japanese life and landmarks.


Shiro stopped working with Watanabe after the Second World War and worked, for a time, with a Kyoto publisher, Unsodo. Seeking greater creative control, and inspired by the independence of the sosaka hanga printmakers who carved and printed their own designs, Shiro eventually broke away completely on his own.


From the late 1950s and for the remainder of his long life, Shiro created woodblock prints in his own, unrestrained style. These small editions he signed, in addition to the traditional Japanese characters and stamps, in penciled English. Shiro’s work from all periods is highly collectable today.