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篁子生画選 Koushisei Gasen [36 Series]

Rakusan spent the two years between mid 1933 and mid 1935 producing two parallel series of woodblock prints. His decisions to use a different format for each series, and to market the two series separately, obscure the fact that both were actually produced as part of the same project. The smaller (but much better known) of the two series consists of thirty-six polychrome woodblock prints which Rakusan called 篁子生畵選 (篁子生画選), Koushisei Gasen, lit. 'Koushisei's Print Selections'. The image at the top of this page is this series title in Rakusan's own calligraphy from a woodblock-printed label which was originally applied to the manila paper folio envelopes used to deliver the prints. However, here that title is generally reserved for the two-series project as a whole, and the polychrome series is informally called the 36 Series.

The identification numbers used here for the 36 Series are original to Rakusan who assigned them to each of the designs in the order they were first published. Although the sequential order is securely attested, to date publication documentation for the installments particular to this series have not yet become available. All of the publication dates currently used here are taken (or extrapolated) from dates for the other larger and simultaneously published Fan Series. Isolating the 36 Series here is somewhat artificial, and the subpages for each of the 36 Series designs may also be accessed from the immediately following Fan Series gallery.

36 Series first appeared as oban-size woodblock prints between January 1934 and mid 1935, although some of the designs were actually created earlier in the latter half of 1933. Rakusan continued to reprint these designs until he closed his studio for World War II in around 1940-1941. After the war he resumed reprinting several of them during the period 1948-1955.

All illustrations on this gallery page are of representative edition I copies. However, edition I for this series includes significant color and technique variations in the printing of many of the designs. Those variations, and any differences in edition II, are described and illustrated on the individual subpages for each design. Please note that the selection of a representative thumbnail version for this gallery page index was a matter of chance and convenience only. The versions of these particular examples are not in any way more special or standard than ones shown only on the subpages.

The more complex 36 Series edition characteristics and dating challenges are discussed in a separate article here.

[Click on the thumbnail to bring up a subpage which includes a larger image of the design, additional details and images, and links to related designs.]


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© 2009 (revisions & subpages © 2012, 2015, 2017) Dr Michael J P Nichols

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