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Complementing Japanesque at the Legion of Honor, this exhibition shows the continued influence of the Japanese print on Western artists into the late twentieth century. American painter, printmaker, and conceptual artist Pat Steir (b. 1938) was the first artist selected by Kathan Brown in 1982 to travel to Japan to make a color woodcut for Crown Point Press’s groundbreaking printmaking program in Kyoto. There she had the opportunity to work closely with artisans trained in the traditional methods of Japanese woodblock printing. In 1984 and 1985 she turned to subjects derived from famous prints by Hokusai and Hiroshige in color etchings she produced at Crown Point Press in Oakland: The Tree after Hiroshige; The Wave—From the Sea after Leonardo, Hokusai, and Courbet; and Yellow Bridge in the Rain after Van Gogh after Hiroshige.
In her appropriation and quotation of other artists, Steir participates in a practice used widely by contemporary artists. In the titles of her works, Steir openly acknowledges her debt to artists—for example, Leonardo, Hokusai, and Courbet in The Wave—and she has described her particular choices of artists and artworks as having been drawn from a sameness of look and feel. Acknowledging the influence of earlier artists on her work, she comments, “When you find an artist you identify with, it’s like finding a father or a mother.”
Those prints will be exhibited along with a series of fascinating working proofs for The Tree after Hiroshige that show the numerous composition and color changes that Steir made during her working process.