Scottish, b. 1967
Flowers of a Hundred Years: A Modern Girl [of 1920]
(Hyakunen no hana: Senkyuhyakunijunen no moga)
the series title Hyakunen no hana and print title Senkyuhyakunijunen no moga in karazuri ('blind-printing') on upper left margin and Binnie on the bottom margin, signed in kanji, Bin-ni at upper left followed by red artist's seal BINNIE, numbered and signed in pencil on the bottom margin, 74/100, Paul Binnie, May 2013
dai oban tate-e 18 1/2 by 13 1/8 in., 46.90 by 33.40 cm
This print, depicting a modern, Westernized girl represents a phenomenon of the 1920s, the moga- a term derived from a contraction of the first syllables of the two words 'modan' (modern) and 'garu' (girl). The moga of Japan were not unlike the flappers in the West, young women who escaped from the paternalism and family controls of previous decades. This beauty displays all of the accoutrements of a typical moga: bobbed hair, flashy Western clothing (the richness of her dress is emphasized with blind-printing and highlighted with mica) revealing a shocking amount of skin, and make-up with sultry, smoky eyes. Unlike a chaste and appropriate young woman of an earlier time, this beauty confidently holds our gaze while elegantly brandishing a lit cigarette. Just off to the side are two cocktails (with gold bands on the glasses), the amber color and Maraschino cherry garnish suggest they are Manhattan cocktails, which was one of the more popular concoctions of the Jazz Age. Of course the presence of two drinks indicates she is not alone.
The subject of a modern girl with a cocktail against a deep red ground is a deliberate reference to the well-known work, Styles of Contemporary Make-up: no. 1, Tipsy (Kindaijisesho no uchi: ichi, Horoyoi) by Kobayakawa Kiyoshi (1896-1948). Although Kiyoshi's moga is alluring as she boldly locks eyes with the viewer, she is also a bit unkempt with bleary-eyes and strands of hair falling out of her hair comb. Her weary demeanor and full face suggest she has been living a life of some excess. Binnie felt these subtleties were criticisms of the moga- who were in fact quite controversial in Japan at the time. In response, he created a flattering portrayal of the moga and celebrates their defiance, independence, and modernity.
As is the case with other prints from this special series, the production quality of this print is very high. There were 47 color and bokashi (shading) printings, and details are highlighted in karazuri ('blind-printing'), mica, silver metallic pigment and 23 carat gold leaf. Subscribers who complete the set of twelve will receive a bonus chuban print at the conclusion of the series.
(inv. no. C-1708)
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December 1, 2021
Scholten Japanese Art
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