Utagawa Kuniyoshi

One of the last great masters of the Japanese ukiyo-e style, Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s areas of specialization were woodblock prints and painting. He depicted landscapes, women, actors, cats, mythical animals, and battles of legendary samurais. At 14, Kuniyoshi attended a prestigious printing school. He graduated as an independent artist in only 3 years and competed with other, arguably more talented contemporary ukiyo-e artists, like Hokusai and Hiroshige. For 10 years, Kuniyoshi scraped by. He landed little commissions and would sell straw tatami mats to make ends meet. His breakthrough came when he finally created a new individual style, depicting action, violence, and literal monsters. One of the most popular of his action-based works is The Outlaws of the Marsh, which feature tattooed heroes who battle demonic overlords. Kuniyoshi catapulted into success, keeping the Japanese public at the edge of their seats with shocking images of horrible monsters and the fearless samurai who defeated them. Kuniyoshi changed Japanese art, laying the foundation for contemporary Japanese media like Dragon Ball Z and Attack on Titan.

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