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JAPANESE DESIGN. - [Kika Monyo - Geometric Patterns].

n.p. n.d. [c1910-30?]. Oblong folio (275x365mm) decorated cloth with paper title label (some insect nibbling of the cloth); 50 double page leaves of light card bound as an accordian fold - meaning that each design is 275x730mm and given enough room the whole could be opened out some 36 and a half metres - each a design painted in gouache with some metallic and transparent layers. Rubbing or offsetting of colours here and there and a few leaves with some adhesion at each edge, nothing too serious. ¶ A spectacular collection of large designs and something of a mystery. This is a sophisticated, professional production for presentation; this is not an artist's personal scrapbook and there is nothing amateurish or studentlike about the designs or the album; but I can't find a name anywhere. On the back of some sheets are some sketched pencil designs and occasional characters, nothing I can interpret. Design competitions were held in the textile trade in the early 20th century and entered albums of designs were both serious and anonymous; perhaps this was for some such competition. One current chic kimono maker ( ) has a signature pattern that looks like it was lifted almost whole from this album. If this was western I would date it to the sixties, perhaps the fifties, but I have no hesitation declaring this decades earlier. I have seen a 1913 album of original designs that contains what could be one of the dullest designs in this. It took me a while to see that page after page of this album comes from the same six straight lines - the hemp (Asanoha - ) pattern. Plenty of cultures mastered ornamental pattern, even an Englishman, Robert Billings, did a good job in the 1850s, but no-one seems to be able to re-invent over and over from the most simple foundation with such vibrant strength as a Japanese designer of this calibre. Once Japan took back and redigested - from the late 19th century on - what the west had taken from Japan, what we regard as modernism, I find it almost impossible to decide what is borrowed and what was always theirs. Can I see the influence of the scraperboard technique popular in the twenties or is it the development of the traditional asymetrical graining of nature? I saw a giant Argyle sock but it is, I think, based on the swastika design popular in textile design for centuries. And what would have been produced using smart new technology in the west - plastics, spiral binding perhaps - has been put together with materials and techniques unchanged for a couple of centuries or so. The previous owner of this firmly equivocated and dated it somewhere between 1900 and 1940. After studying it for some time I think he was right. But having seen some of these patterns and colours used in early Taisho books and posters, I narrow it down to between 1910 and 1920.
AUD 3500.00 [Appr.: EURO 2245.25 US$ 2548.48 | £UK 1989.25 | JP¥ 288627] Book number 9224

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