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New! Kuniyoshi’s Edo-rable cats #NationalCatDay

8"x10" ($35) | 11"x14" ($75) | 16"x20" ($260) | 20"x24" ($750)

It’s that time of year again! The holidays are approaching fast and we’ve got some exciting new things to share. In fact, we’ve got so many that for the next seven weeks we’ve got not one but two new releases comin’ your way each week! We kicked things off with a bold and bright new edition from Hilma af Klint on Tuesday, and today’s new Vintage Edition is purrfectly timed just ahead of National Cat Day tomorrow. Cats as the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō was created by Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) in 1850 as a triptych. 

Each of the 55 cats represents a play on the names of the 53 rest areas—plus the two endpoints—along the Tōkaidō road, the coastal route that ran from Edo to Kyoto. Cats as the Fifty-three Stations is a silly spoof on Utagawa Hiroshige’s famous ukiyo-e series The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō, which depicted views of each of the rest areas in great detail and was the best-selling collection of woodcut prints in ukiyo-e history. The different post stations provided food and lodgings for travelers, and while Hiroshige illustrated each with their distinctive landscapes, Kuniyoshi captured them through one of our favorite art forms: cat puns.

There are fat cats, lazy cats, snacking cats, and sassy cats, each of them a metaphor. For example, in the upper left corner, two kittens snooze soundly with mama, a play on the name of the 41st station Miya, which sounds similar to the Japanese word for a parent, oya (親). Peep the scrawny, spotted creature with some serious cattitude at the bottom of the left panel? That’s the 51st station Ishibe, similar to the word miji-me (ミじめ), meaning miserable. 

Kuniyoshi is often regarded as one of the last great masters of ukiyo-e woodblock prints. His style was characterized by dynamic figures with realistic, studied postures of movement. With fine, detailed lines, he was able to pack whole storylines into small scenes and vignettes like those in Cats as the Fifty-three Stations. A well-known, faithful feline devotee, Kuniyoshi’s studio was often overrun by the inquisitive critters, and we’ve got a feeling that a whole lotta you can relate. This edition is the perfect self-proclamation of Team Cat. Or purrhaps a gift for that tabby-loving friend? Either way, get lost in the meow-ment with Kuniyoshi’s Cats as the Fifty-three Stations.

With art for everyone,
Team 20x200 

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