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Un'ichi Hiratsuka
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Matsue, Honshu, Japan
Death Date: 
Born 1895 at Matsue on the Japan Sea (where Lafcadio Hearn lived), Shim,ane Prefecture., studied art in Tokyo, became with Onchi the leader of the modern woodblock print movement in Japan. Helen Merritt has written that Hiratsuka Unichi was the creative print movement's "practical teacher, mentor, and grassroots leader." Raised in Matsue in northern Honshu, Hiratsuka came under the influence of the artist Ishuii Hakutei, an early practitioner of sosaku hanga which means creative print (artists carved and printed their own designs) and moved to Tokyo to study western-style watercolor painting with him. Hiratsuka did a six-month apprenticeship with the traditional wood carver Igami Bonkotsu. He then went on to a career as a magazine illustrator, print artist, and teacher. Hiratsuka taught at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and trained many important print artists of the postwar period. He worked primarily in black and white from the 1930's on. His work was popular among American collectors. Hiratsuka held classes in printmaking for foreigners in Japan and then moved to Washington DC where he lived for the last 30 years of his life. In 1977 he was presented with the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Third Class, by the Japanese ambassador in Washington for his contribution to wood block printing as a contemporary art.Volk, Al;icia. MADE IN JAPAN The Postwar Creative Print Movement. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum in association with University of Washington Press, 2005, page 109. (hgs 9/23/08)