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KITAOKA Fumio (北岡文雄)

Ômogokei aki no iro (Ômogo Gorge in autumn colors: 面河渓秋の色)
"Fumio Kitaoka" in pencil LR margin
No artist seal
Self-printed and self-published on custom-made paper watermarked "Fumio Kitaoka"
1982 in pencil LR margin
Edition: 23/85 in pencil LL margin
(H x W)
Large sôsaku hanga (modern) woodblock print, 48.6 x 63.3 cm (with uneven top-right deckle edge, i.e., the natural, untrimmed border of the handmade paper; 4 small tape pieces along top edge on reverse)
Excellent color and condition
Price (USD/¥):
$520 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)
(Due to the large size, please add $30 for U.S. deliveries or $50 for international.)

Order/Inquiry: KTA01


Kitaoka Fumio (北岡文雄 1918-2007) studied printmaking with Hiratsuka Un'ichi at the Tokyo Bijutsu Gakko (Tokyo School of Fine Arts, 東京美術学校). Hiratsuka was one of the principal figures in the sôsaku hanga movement who, between 1935 and 1944, taught the first block-printing course at the school. Graduating during the Second World War, Kitaoka initially taught art in Tokyo, but in January 1945 he was stationed as an art instructor in occupied Manchuria. His experiences in China led to the social-realist series titled Sokaku e no tabi (Return to the home country: 祖国への旅) in 1947 (see below).

Kitaoka also became one of the many disciples of Kôshirô Onchi, the seminal figure in abstract and experimental print design. While active within the Onchi circle, Kitaoka produced some abstract work and contributed designs to Ichimokushû (First Thursday Collection: 一木集) for issues IV to VI (plus the cover for IV, 1948), the important portfolios produced by the Ichimokukai (First Thursday Society: 一木会) headed by Onchi.

For more about this artist, see Kitaoka Biography.


From at least the mid 1970s, Kitaoka produced various meisho (views of famous places: 名所) using a colorful palette and a pleasing picturesque style. Presumably, these designs appealed to both Japanese and foreign collectors. The example shown here is titled Ômogokei aki no iro (Ômogo Gorge in autumn colors: 面河渓秋の色), printed in 1982 from an edition of 100. This is a well-known scenic area, popular for hiking and rafting, in Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku. Ômogokei also attracts many visitors at the peak of fall foliage in early November. Kitaoka's design depicts the rapids surging through the gorge on a sunny day with intensely bright autumn leaves on the distant trees, tumbling down the rapids, and scattered on the chiseled rocks in the foreground.

This design is emblematic of Kitaoka's late-period work. The palette is bright and the application of colorants is fairly flat and uniform. Shading is achieved through the overprinting of darker shades onto lighter hues, again in flat shapes. The turbulent water is rendered most effectively with four shades of blue and a medium gray. At the lower left, diagonal striated lines within darker shapes appear to suggest rocks or the river bed beneath the swirling water. In contrast to this agitation, the fallen, multicolored leaves seem to be on display, as if selected and laid out carefully by a human hand.

Our impression is in exceptional condition, with fresh colors and a pristine surface. (Note: The darker area at the top right is not a defect, but rather the surface upon which the print was placed for photography, visible due to the preserved, untrimmed deckle edge of the print paper.)


  1. Kitaoka Fumio mokuhanga ten (Exhibition of the woodcuts of Kitaoka Fumio: 北岡文雄木版画展). Machida City Museum Graphic Arts (町田市立国際版画美術館). Exhibition catalog, 1988.
  2. Kitaoka Fumio no sekai ten (Exhibition of the world of Kitaoka Fumio: 北岡文雄の世界展), Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art (北海道立近代美術館), Exhibition catalog, 1993.
  3. Merritt, Helen: Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Early Years. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1990, pp. 253-255.
  4. Merritt, Helen and Yamada, Nanako, Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1992, p. 69.
  5. Zehnder, Amanda, Modern Japanese Prints: The Twentieth Century. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum of Art, 2009, pp. 88-91.