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Obata, Chiura (1885 - 1975), "Clouds, Upper Lyell Trail"

arrow-left arrow right "Clouds, Upper Lyell Trail" by Obata, Chiura
Catalog ID A2451
Artist Chiura Obata
Title Clouds, Upper Lyell Trail
Medium Original Japanese Woodblock Print
Series Title World Landscape Series - "America"
Edition First; Artist Signature/Chop, with Edition #26
Date 1930
Publisher Takamizawa Color-Print Studio, Tokyo
Reference No Obata's Yosemite, #19 in Series; pg. 109
Size 13 x 18 " (Full Margins)
Condition Very fine, with superb colors.

Notes: One of the most striking Sierra, California scenes from his oeuvre of works included in the World Landscape Series - "America". Signed and numbered examples in very fine condition, exhibiting fresh colors, as with this impression, are very scarce.

Obata comments, "A paradise for lovers of the out-of-doors is found here, a spot along the Lyell Fork, which cuts through the Tuolumne Meadows. Nameless flowers are found here in profusion, and wild herbs that are delicious to eat with trout. Clouds sail lightly and joyously over the high plateau. The soul and mind of man are lost in the supreme beauty."

Begun in 1928 when Obata visited Japan, the World Landscape Series took 18 months to complete. The project required the work of 32 block carvers and 40 printers with each print requiring from 100 to as many as 160 impressions in order to accurately replicate Obata's original watercolors. The folio consisted of 35 colored woodblock prints. All but one show California scenes, and 27 are views of Yosemite and the High Sierra. It is believed that 100 folios were sent to the artist. Not all of the prints were signed and sealed. Each print has the publishers name stamped on the reverse. The folder illustration shows the publisher's watermark, visible below the title slip.

Obata was one of most prominent practitioners of the modern nihonga (Japanese Painting) movement, which sought to reconcile traditional Japanese and contemporary European schools of art. As a professor of art (1932–1942/1945–1954) for the University of California at Berkeley, Obata taught thousands of students about Asian culture and Buddhist philosophies of respect for nature, selflessness, and pacifism. The East West Art Society, co-founded by Obata in 1921, promoted his belief that art could provide the common ground necessary to transcend the barriers of nationalism and racism. For Obata, “Great Nature” provided important philosophical lessons regarding permanence and impermanence, and also served as a source of spiritual enlightenment. Although he never practiced any organized religion, Obata observed, “when I enter into the bosom of Great Nature I believe in the blessing of nature as a kind of God to me.”

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