Takizawa Kuniyuki. 染織図案 邦行作品選集 [Senshoku Zuan - Kuniyuki Sakuhin Senshu]. Tokyo, Takizawa Kuniyuki 1933 (Showa 8). Folio (47x32cm) publisher's folding case with printed label; three leaves of text mounted inside the front cover and on a hinged board; 50 heavy sheets, loose as issued, with 200 mounted designs. Each sheet with the artist's blindstamp and each with a glassine overlay. A bit of insect nibbling and marking of the case, minor signs of use. The printed colophon slip pasted inside the back board tells us this album was hibaihin: not for sale. I think there is another slip underneath this but I'm not going to pick at it. Au$2750
How many copies of this monumental textile design album did Takizawa produce? How many could he produce? I'm still flummoxed by how it was done and the amount of work involved. I first assumed that Takizawa must have built and painted large sheets and then cut them up. He probably did but on at least one extravagantly textured design the surface extends a fraction beyond the paper - it can't have been cut up afterwards. Takizawa experimented with all sorts of techniques including layering paper: some designs have paint, threads or cords covered with textured tissues. How much of the texture could have been applied with some sort of stencil I don't know but the amount of work in creating each of the 200 designs bewilders me.
It occurred to me that there is a lot of blank space in this album and of course that's intentional. Most design albums cram designs together and we are dazzled by colour and movement. In the best of them the complete plate, not each part, is the design. Takizawa has made sure that each design, large or small, is to be examined for itself. Whether or not each design works is up to us and we won't be distracted by the salon clutter style of presentation.
These are called textile designs and that's obvious with many but like every good designer Takizawa has let himself run free just for the hell of it. And then he has gone a step further: a lot of these are paintings in themselves, abstract expressionist if you like - or call it something else if you don't.
Takizawa's short preface is typeset and, from what I can figure out, talks about colour and soul and spirit rather than technique. The other two, by luminaries Wada Sanzo and Sasagawa Rinpu are reproduced from their manuscript drafts, corrections, scribbles and all. Sasagawa was at this time maybe Japan's most respected literary critic and ukiyo-e expert but he destroyed his career the next year by foolishly backing two new discoveries that turned out to be fakes. I gather no expert has taken a risk since then.
Takizawa was best known as a flower painter. He won imperial approval in the late twenties which suggests to me that his work was not so radical. This album is so singular, so unlike anything else I've seen of the period there is no point in talking about radical. It was another generation before we see anything like this in terms of colour and expression and it took new technologies in polymers and acrylics before artists did anything like this with book production. So how many copies? And how different is each one? I don't know, I can't find any record of another copy.
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