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Artist Spotlight : Paul Jacoulet


French artist Paul Jacoulet (1896-1960) lived in Japan most of his life. During a span of twenty-six years, he produced 166 masterfully printed color woodcuts inspired by his travels to Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia and numerous islands of the South Pacific.


His inventive compositions reveal a synthesis of traditional Japanese printing techniques with modern European aesthetics and are examples of superb craftsmanship. Each print involved as many as 300 pressings of handmade paper against as many as sixty carved cherry wood blocks.


As a young boy, Jacoulet moved to Tokyo where his father taught French at the School of Foreign Languages. Jacoulet’s formal education in Japan was supplemented by private instruction in languages, calligraphy, painting and music. Following an early career as an interpreter for the French embassy in Tokyo, he decided to devote himself exclusively to his art.


During his extensive travels, he filled his sketchbooks with drawings and also painted hundreds of watercolors. In the execution of his prints, Jacoulet collaborated with master carvers and skillful young printers, personally supervising the pulling of each print. He often credited their significant role by stamping their names along the margins of his prints.

Jacoulet’s woodcuts evoke the themes and methods of the traditional Japanese woodblock print genre known as ukiyo-e.


Dating back to the 17th century, ukiyo-e prints typically featured theater performers, beautiful courtesans, landscapes and scenes from history and everyday life. Jacoulet is often associated with the Shin Hanga ("New Prints") movement that sought to revitalize this tradition by introducing Western realism and new subject matter.


Jacoulet further invigorated the ukiyo-e tradition through his experimentation with elaborate new techniques and innovative materials. For example, he used precious metals and natural pigments in devising new shadings as well as colored mica, powdered semi-precious stones and small embossing blocks for added texture.


Text from George A Smathers Libraries, you can view Paul Jacoulet online exsibition

Images supplied by 1stdibs.com , view Paul Jacoulet catalog






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