The Shin Hanga ("new prints": 新版画) — see links below — movement extolled the virtues of the traditional ukiyo-e studio system, the so-called "ukiyo-e quartet" involving the artist, carver, printer, and publisher. (Actually, a fifth artisan, the block copyist, should be included to make a qunitet.) Its purported philosophy was at odds with the sôsaku hanga ("creative print") movement, which avidly supported the direct involvement of the artists in designing, engraving, and printing their own works.
At the center of the shin hanga movement was the publisher Watanabe Shôzaburô (1885-1962). Watanabe believed that shin hanga
were not fukusei hanga ("reproduction prints": 復製版画) as charged by the sôsaku hanga advocates, and that such prints were certainly "creative" as long as the artist could achieve the results he wanted with the assistance of experienced craftsmen. In such a collaborative system the artist could benefit from the skills of the artisans in producing works of art in a medium he could not otherwise use so successfully on his own. Artistic expression was therefore supported, not violated. In response to criticism, Watanabe began using the term shinsaku hanga ("newly created prints") in 1921 to emphasize the creative aspects of the shin hanga method.
The shin hanga movement flourished from around 1915 to 1942, though it resumed briefly from 1946 through the 1950s. Watanabe and other shin hanga publishers produced the works of both native Japanese artists and Western artists who created images in the Japanese manner. Their studios issued designs recalling the themes of traditional ukiyo-e filtered through a modern sensibility, with subjects such as landscapes and cityscapes, beautiful women, actor portraits, and nature prints. ©2000-2020 by John Fiorillo
- Jenkins, Donald: Images of a Changing World: Japanese Prints of the Twentieth Century. Portland Art Museum, 1983.
- Merritt, Helen: Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Early Years. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press 1990.
- Smith, Lawrence: The Japanese Print Since 1900: Old Dreams and New Visions. London: British Museum, 1983.
- Stephens, Amy Reigle (Ed.): The New Wave: Twentieth-century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Mueller Collection. London & Leiden: Bamboo Publishing and Hotei-Japanese Prints, 1993.