Animated GIFs illustrate traditional Japanese woodblock prints with humor

Segawa 37 - Gif 1

Beautiful Decay (by Tamar Akcay): 

Segawa 37 pays tribute to Japanese art by creating GIFs from the original work of traditional Japanese woodblock prints, “pictures of the floating world’.

Originally, Japanese woodblock paintings, also called Ukiyo-e, were depictions of everyday scenes in Japan. Affordable, they represented the possibility for the mass to access art. Segawa 37 gives a new life to these prints by altering their core. From hyper realistic to surreal, the artist offers to the modern world a new way of looking at a classic form of art. 

The most emblematic representation of Japan, a contemplation of movements; calm and serene, but always intense remains within those wooden prints. The artist’s reinterpretation of Katsushika Hokusai’s images is disturbing the stillness and tranquility of the scenes… What is meant to be admired in almost a meditative state is now entertaining.

Discover Segawa 37’ series of Gifs on the GifMagazine award page sponsored by Adobe.

Segawa 37 - Gif 3Segawa 37 - Gif 6Segawa 37 - Gif 2

Segawa 37 - Gif 7Segawa 37 - Gif 5

Edo and Meiji era Japanese artwork now available for free download

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 17

Attention all designers, artists, fashion enthusiasts and people who just appreciate some nice Japanese artwork: The Smithsonian Libraries should be your best friends.

Among their thousands of other free artwork and books, The Smithsonian Libraries and the Freer and Slacker Galleries, Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Arts now offer free downloads of thousands of beautiful Japanese prints.

Haven’t you ever wanted the simple yet colorful and whimsical prints of Meiji era (1868-1912) artwork as a digital file on your computer? Yeah, we have too and we’re really excited about this cool find.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 17

The collection is in fact a series of monthly design magazines, entitled Shin-bijutsukai.They were released in 1902 to show various designs by famous artists of the day. Artists featured include the editor himself, Korin Furuya, and his predecessor, Kamisaka Sekka. Sekka is known for being one of the first to incorporate Western tastes, styles and methods into traditional Japanese-style works. Furuya carried on this new, modern Japanese style and helped spread it around the world.

▼ Can you see the Western influence?

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 17.36.17

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 17.40.46

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 17.43.01

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 17

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 17

If you want digital access to the pictures above and hundreds more, head to The Smithsonian Libraries website. There are two volumes of Shin-bijutsukai and both can be downloaded in their entirety by clicking the links towards the bottom of the website here.

Be aware, the files are kind of big, so you might want to stick with computers, not smart phones for this one.


If you’re more into traditional artwork, the Freer and Slacker Museums also offer countless free downloads of artwork from all over Asia here. In the Japan section, you can find Edo period woodblock prints from world-famous artists, such as Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige.

▼ “Wood-block Print of Two Fish with Floral Sprays and a Poetic Inscription” by Utagawa Hiroshige.


▼ “Merry Makers at Cherry Blossom Festival” by Yeisen


Sometimes staring at pictures in museums just isn’t enough; you want to get them from the wall and onto your computer. Now you can and what’s even better, is that they’re available for free. Thank you technology and thank you Smithsonian Library.

Mona Lisa could possibly be portrait of Da Vinci’s Chinese mother, historian claims



Research carried out by Hong Kong-based Italian historian and novelist Angelo Paratico has led him to claim that Leonardo Da Vinci’s mother, who is thought by many to have been the subject of the ‘Mona Lisa‘, could have been a Chinese slave.

Paratico’s research, which he has devoted the past two years to, has formed the basis of his new book, Leonardo Da Vinci: A Chinese scholar lost in Renaissance Italy.

In his book, which is set for publication next year, Paratico reportedly aims to uncover Da Vinci’s connection with the Far East, Daily Mail reports.

The Italian, who has spent the last 20 years in Hong Kong, is confident that the painter’s origins were rooted in Asia.

I am sure up to a point that Leonardo’s mother was from the Orient, but to make her an oriental Chinese, we need to use a deductive method,” he told reporters from South China Morning Post.

Paratico highlights a number of other factors that would indicate Da Vinci had Chinese ancestry, adding “for instance, the fact he was writing with his left hand from left to right… and he was also a vegetarian which was not common. Mona Lisa is probably a portrait of his mother, as Sigmund Freud said in 1910. On the back of Mona Lisa, there is a Chinese landscape and even her face looks Chinese.”

The historian—who has also written a number of novels, including one about a young James Bond—believes that, despite the findings gathered from his study, the only way to accurately pinpoint Da Vinci’s ancestry is to exhume a few of his relatives to gather some DNA.

On a rather more certain note, there is a lot less ambiguity surrounding the ancestry of the person who painted this recreation of the ‘Mona Lisa’.


Artist Profile: Paintings by Nguyen Xuan Huy




Born in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1976 and currently based in Berlin, Germany, painter Nguyen Xuan Huy borrows from various aspects of art history in his sprawling tableaux, employing a Pop Art aesthetic to visually confront the traumatic legacy of the Vietnam War, specifically the birth defects caused by Agent Orange and its deleterious effects even three generations later.
Check out this link:

Artist Profile: Paintings by Nguyen Xuan Huy

4485_9_Nguyen-Xuan-Huy-Flying-I 4483_9_Nguyen-Xuan-Huy-The-Rich-Harvest 5290_9_Nguyen-Xuan-Huy-Die-Geburt-der-Venus-nach-Botticelli 3870_9_Nguyen-Xuan-Huy-Garten-der-Lueste 5292_9_Nguyen-Xuan-Huy-Portrait-mit-US-und-vietnamesischen-Orden-nach-Picassos-Weinender-Frau 4487_9_Nguyen-Xuan-Huy-Flying-II 6082_9_Nguyen-Xuan-Huy-Ballet-Dancer 6083_9_Nguyen-Xuan-Huy-Beat-it 6084_9_Nguyen-Xuan-Huy-Eat-it