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Faces No. 3


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Faces No. 3 (Kao 3)

(an original print from James A. Michener's

The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation)

by Kinoshita Tomio, 1962

Face (male)

IHL Cat. #1336e

About This Print

One of ten modern prints by ten different artists chosen for James Michener’s 1962 seminal work and portfolio of prints The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation, a work that brought Kinoshita and the other artists to international attention.

"The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciationby James Michener

Note: Each print is tipped into Michener's book and placed under a mat that covers its margin, hiding the artist's signature, the print's title and the edition number on most of the prints.

IHL Cat. 1336
James A. Michener, The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation, 1962
Bound book with ten original prints by Hiratsuka Un'ichi, Maekawa Senpan,
Watanabe Sadao, Kinoshita Tomio, Shima Tamami, Azechi Umemtarō*,
Iwami Reika,Yoshida Masaji, Maki Haku and Mori Yoshitoshi,
housed in a wooden slipcase
(* This collection's book is missing the print by Azechi Umemtarō.)

In his introduction to this print, Michener writes in part:

In 1957 the hitherto unknown woodblock artist Kinoshita Tomio, then thirty-four years old, startled artistic Tokyo with a series of large prints consisting of stylized human heads depicted in a striking new manner. Usually only black and one color were used, and those subdued, but both critics and buying public found the results immensely to their liking, and a new artist was launched.

The chief characteristics of Kinoshita are well exemplified in this work, which is composed of severe geometrical patterns sensitively tied together into a pleasing design. The blocklike heads dominate the body of the print, but subsidiary geometrical patterns are utilized, as in the isosceles triangle that forms the chin of the left-hand face and the right-angled triangle that forms the hair of the right-hand head. The viewer is invited to find the other geometrical patterns for himself, and to see how cleverly they are juxtaposed in order to obtain maximum artistic effectiveness.

From the moment of Kinoshita's initial appearance I have been partial to his prints, for they convey a sense of great simplicity and force, a combination which often produces enviable art. They have a universal quality, for as I have pointed out they could be of Renaissance derivation, yet they also represent the stoic modern man set grimly against an age he does not fully comprehend or approve. Weak though they may be when confronted with forces of darkness, these men display stubbornness and courage, characteristics which are perhaps more easily detected in square-block figures then in the elliptical ones.1 [My note: reference the artist's biography and the print Big Boys,1958 for an example of Kinoshita's elliptical heads.]

Kinoshita's commentary:
A full title for this print would be "Faces of the Weak Courageously Attempting to Move Forward in a World of Darkness." This is one in a series of prints I have been working on for four or five years, all having the common motif of faces or masks. In combinations of faces such as the present I am trying to express the sufferings of society, of man, of mankind, of all living beings. I am not too certain of my results: perhaps in the end I have produced mere "prints".2

The following technical information is also provided:
 Artist's title: "Kao 3" (Faces, No. ). Carved on two Judas-tree boards and printed on natural-color torinoko paper. Self-printed, with carmine and vermilion water colors mixed to obtain the orange, which was impressed three times; sumi ink used for the black, impressed twice.3

1 The Modern Japanese Print - An Appreciation, James Michener, Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1968, p. 32-33.
2 Ibid., p. 34.
3 Ibid.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1336e
Faces No. 3 (Kao 3; 顔 3)
 Series Faces
 Kinoshita Tomio (1923-c.2011)
Tomio Kinoshita hand written in pencil on right side of bottom margin
 Seal not sealed
 Publication Date 1981
 Edition 463/510
 Publisher Charles E. Tuttle Company, Tokyo
 Carver self-carved
 Printer self-printed
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent 
 Genre sosaku hanga (creative prints)
 Format dai-ōban
 H x W Paper 14 9/16 x 11 1/8 in. (39.4 x 29.2 cm )
 H x W Image 13 7/8 x 9 3/4 in. (33.7 x 25.1 cm) 
 Collections This Print Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon 2004.39e; Brooklyn Museum 63.15.5; Philadelphia Museum of Art 1964-201-1(5); Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama 1990.93.5; The British Museum 1981,0205,0.1.5; Weatherspoon Art Museum, The University of North Carolina 1981.2837.5; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 63.458
 Reference Literature The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation, James A. Michener, [with Ten Original Prints by Hiratsuka Un'Ichi, Maekawa Sempan, Mori Yoshitoshi, Watanabe Sadao, Kinoshita Tomio, Shima Tamami, Azechi Umetaro, Iwami Reika, Yoshida Masaji, Maki Haku], Rutland, Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1962; The Modern Japanese Print - An Appreciation, James Michener, Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1968 [the "popular edition"]
last revision:
8/29/2021 created