Michael Knigin, Thunder & Shower I, After Yoshitaki

Michael Knigin (1942 - 2011) Thunder & Shower I, After Yoshitaki, 1979. Multi-colour Screenprint (81 x 61cm).

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We are showing this exciting print made by one of America’s leading printmakers of the 20th century as an experiment… (we shall in the future sometimes add fine art prints that are made much later or in response to ukiyo-e). The print takes a woodblock yakusha-e of the kabuki actor Enjaku I by Nakai Yoshitaki from 1865, and enlarges it and changes some of the details… the bars of lightning remain but the plain background of the Yoshitaki is transformed into an aerial cityscape. The Knigin print is from a short series (in true Osaka school style) of four prints of the same actor in different poses against different half tone shots of New York city. In each print on this over sized format, Knigin has superimposed the distinctive bars of lightning from the original Yoshitaki but he has also animated and given new life to the actor, expanding his ‘range’ as it were into late twentieth century contemporary art.  The Yoshitaki print is a mitate from a highly unusual decaptych, (ten sheet print) showing actors in the play Narihibiku date no yudachi, although the actors in reality may never have performed them in life.

Michael Knigin was a native of New York, a Professor at the Pratt Graphic Centre in New York and co-owner of the Chiron Press where he worked with Andy Warhol, Louise Nevelson, Kenneth Noland, Larry Poons, and Tom Wesselman. In this way he echoed the careers of ukiyo-e printmakers like Toyokuni who were robustly involved in the business of designing, printing and publishing. Knigin is well regarded in the States, a commissioned artist by Nasa for major space events and his work is held in collections of  Brooklyn Museum, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and many other institutions.

The print breathes life into the form. It is often erroneously listed as a lithograph, it is in fact a limited edition screen-print from an edition of 300. The print is hand signed by the artist in pencil: Knigin 79; and hand titled: Thunder & Shower I, After Yoshitaki. The edition number is 246/300.

The work itself is very large, the image size is 66 x 48 cm and the overall paper size is 81 x 61 cm. Colour and impression are very fine. Condition is perfect, two faint marks to right hand margin.