Utamaro Revealed to a 21st Century Audience

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UK author Gina Collia-Suzuki is set to launch the first book to focus on the subjects and themes depicted in the woodblock prints of 18th century Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro.

Beautiful courtesans parading with whitened faces, star-crossed lovers sacrificing everything to be together, and dashing heroes fearlessly laying down their lives for the sake of honour. Utamaro's prints have it all. The characters who appeared in Utamaro's works captured the imaginations of the people of 18th century Japan, and they are set to do the same amongst modern readers following the publication of this new book; one of only a handful of in-depth studies written in English about the artist, and the only one to focus specifically on the subjects depicted.

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), who produced in the region of 2,000 woodblock prints during his lifetime, is one of the most well-known and admired figures in the history of Japanese art. Renowned throughout the world for his portraits of beautiful women, his influence upon the work of Western artists has been beyond measure.

The author, an artist in her own right, has been a collector of Japanese woodblock prints, and more specifically those of Utamaro, for many years. At the age of sixteen she was taken under the wing of world-renowned Japanese art history scholar Jack Hillier, and has since devoted more than two decades to studying Japanese prints.

"You can't help wondering why the Mona Lisa is smiling," said the author, "when you look at a painting you want to know more about the artist's subject, to make a connection, and for me it's always been the same when looking at Japanese prints. They are incredibly beautiful things to look at, but they also tell a story, often about real people, sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic. That's always fascinated me."

"Utamaro Revealed", published by Nezu Press, with a retail price of £22.48, will be launched officially on October 25th 2008. Further details are available from the official web site at: http://www.utamarorevealed.com

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