(Japan 1891 – 1955)
21.0 x 12.9 cm image; 21.1 x 13.0 cm sheet
Onchi is the single most important artist in modern Japanese prints and in the development of abstract expression in Japan. Starting with his first purely abstract work Bright hours (1915), he worked freely both in figurative and abstract works.
The Morning, depicting a glass of milk in the clean blue and white air of the morning is executed in cubist style. The work was made during the period when, along with avant-garde artists such as Murayama Tomoyoshi and Kanbara Tai, Onchi was experimenting with Western (particularly German) modernist styles. He kept a certain distance from the other avant-garde artists, however, perhaps because of his deep love for the poetic and the lyrical, a sentiment which was little shared by the others.
This print, like many others produced in the 1920s and 30s, was published in a small-circulation print magazine called Sen [Lines].
When the print was published in the magazine it was accompanied by Onchi's poem:
'Morning arrives with dullness,
Smelling of hay and cow's urine
The morning is peaceful but feeble.
Milk forms the sick one's skin.
All is emission from thereof.'
Asian Art Dept, AGNSW, October 1999.
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Individuality in early 20th century works on paper', Sydney, 2003, 281 (colour illus.).
Junji NAKAHATA (Editor), Sen (Lines): Poetry, Prints, Plays, Japan, Jul 1930, colour illus.. No pagination.
KUWAHARA Noriko, Hanga: Japanese creative prints, 'Onchi Kôshirô's pursuit of modernity in prints 1910s-1930s', pg. 23-39, Sydney, 2000, 22 (colour illus.), 103, 110. cat.no. 4.12
Hanga: Japanese creative prints, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Oct 2000–07 Jan 2001