Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s “New Forms of 36 Ghosts”
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi is widely recognized as the last great master of Ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world,” the main genre of Japanese woodblock printing (and a major source of inspiration for many modernist artists from Europe).
In his last series, New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts, the artist depicts a variety of spirits and magic animals from Japanese folk tales and history. As opposed to the morbidly graphic work that originally brought him fame, horror is mostly suggested in these works. Can you spot the subtle supernatural event in the print below?
The public greeted New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts with great enthusiasm, but unfortunately Yoshitoshi did not live long enough to see the series completed. The first designs appeared in 1889, and the final prints were not issued until shortly after his death from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 53.
The images here come courtesy of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College. Explore the full range of Yoshitoshi’s oeuvre in the ARTstor Digital Library, which boasts nearly 600 images of his work from contributors such as the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
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