top of page
Paintings, lithographs, scrolls, & photographs
Japanese artwork comes in many forms. Some of the most valuable are original ukiyo-e paintings, painted on anything from scrolls, screens, and paper canvas. Another form emerged in the early 19th century called lithography which is featured by a few of the artists below.
Lithograph vs woodblock printing
The lithograph was a way of transferring images from stone or metal using a chemical solvent and a type of press. It was invented in 1789 by Aloys Senefelder a German playwright and author who sought a means of quickly copying his playwrights. It was adopted by mapmakers, printers, and artists as a way to copy popular works, and images. The artists' featured below, Oda Kazuma and Elizabeth Keith both used lithography, although, for Kazuma, lithography was his main method of producing art. The differences between a lithograph and a print are often hard to tell with an untrained eye and are often mistaken as the same.
The differences between a lithograph and a woodblock print
Lithography is the use of limestone or metal plates to produce prints through a delicate process of using oil-based inks or other materials which are then pressed onto a tablet containing a chemically etched image to create the final product.
Printmaking is a more streamlined process that involves the use of mechanical devices, or hand and wooden tools to stamp the design onto paper. Prints are often done in a much greater number than lithographs with some producers making thousands of prints at a time of one single work.
As it emerged in the 19th century, lithography became a form of graphic art that was unique from any other method that had ever been done before. Unlike prints, lithographs are original works of art that are done by a single artist and are usually signed. Artists are able to draw or paint their works directly onto the printing plate during the lithography process, which leads many art critics and historians to consider the process of lithography to be more delicate than printmaking.
The practice of completely "owning" the entire process of printmaking went hand in hand with the shin hanga & sosaku hanga artists. The artists' featured below, Oda Kazuma and Elizabeth Keith both used lithography, although, for Kazuma, lithography was his main method of producing art. The differences between a lithograph and a print are often hard to tell with an untrained eye and are often mistaken as the same.
Courtesy goes to The Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art for their excellent example of a step-by-step lithography process which can be found here.
bottom of page