Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kiichi Tsutaya Coloring Pictures

Just when I think i know everything awesome about Japan another amazing tidbit comes out. The Tenri Cultural Institute of NY happens to be wedged between my class buildings. On my way from one class to another I saw the most beautiful illustrations in the Tenri Gallery. Turns out its an exhibit on Nurie- Japanese picture coloring. Nurie is the phenomena that lead to what we now know as Anime or Manga. It originated during the Meji Era when the government decided to incorporate western culture into Japan. Just as young children were encouraged to trace Japanese characters and learn their alphabet, they were also given coloring books to trace with fabulous "western" pictures. These pictures were usually of sweet faced young geisha and girls, with westernized large eyes as idealized by European drawings.

One of the best nurie artists was Kiichi Tsutaya. He drew girls with large heads, foreshortened bodies and chubby legs. This may sound odd- but just as Michelangelo's "David" is anatomically incorrect but looks good- so does Kiichi's girls. His coloring nurie books sold like hot cakes, typically selling 1 million books a month. I would encourage everyone in Manhattan from 9/25-10/3 to give this exhibit a look over. the art is beautiful and a nice flash back to a time before photoshop and the politically correct blah of today.