The eight contributors drew their inspiration from many sources. Like most artists of their generation they had experimented with Western techniques and were influenced by contemporary art from around the world, but the series also fitted into the centuries-old tradition of ukiyo-e (‘floating world’) woodblocks, which depicted fashionable scenes of leisure and entertainment.
The group set out to memorialise and celebrate the Tokyo they knew, and the 100 Views reveal a vibrant and dynamic city where progress sits comfortably with tradition, exploring it from its shrines to its subways, its dance-halls to its dockyards, in every season and at every time of day or night. Although the scenes are often populated – sometimes crowded – the focus is never on human inhabitance but on the city itself as a character. The bridges that appear again and again are an apt metaphor for the transitional nature of these prints, which still feel fresh and exciting eighty years after they were first made
I must remark that Tokyo today is developing and changing very rapidly. Yesterday’s Tokyo has already changed, and there are many prints in the early part of the series showing places that have changed. So they are really “Old” Tokyo and not “New” Tokyo. Indeed, we could start on another series of Shin Tokyo Hyakkei!
– Maekawa Sempan, 1932
I was never much in the swim of things as far as prints were concerned. Since I didn’t live in Tokyo I never knew many of the print artists and never was much influenced by them. I’ve just gone my own way, doing what interested me, and hoping it would interest somebody else. If it has, I’m happy.
– Kawakami Sumio
Art is not to be understood by the mind but by the heart. If we go back to its origin, painting is expressed in color and form by the heart, and it should never be limited to a world of reflected forms captured by visual sense. Therefore, expression of the heart through color and forms separated from color and form in the real world is that true realm of painting. I will for the time call this type of work the ‘lyrique’.
– Onchi Kōshirō
It was impossible to choose so few images. Click here to view the complete series.