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Maki, Haku (巻白)

Work 74-40
Haku Maki
Artist seal: Haku Maki (白巻)
1974; Edition No.: 30/155
(H x W)
Large-format sôsaku hanga
41.0 x 55.9 cm
Excellent color and overall condition, very thick paper, unbacked; very subtle shift in background tone in thin strip along top edge (visible only when viewed closely from an angle)
Price (USD/¥):
$535 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)

Order/Inquiry: MKH01


Maki Haku (巻白 1924-2000) is the artistic name of Maejima Tadaaki who was born in Asomachi in Ibaragi Prefecture. He had no formal art training, although after the Second World War he did involve himself in meetings guided by the visionary modernist Onchi Kôshirô at the Ichimoku-kai (First Thursday Society: 一木会), where he learned much from the master. Although his earliest work was strongly influenced by Onchi, Maki gradually developed his own style, particularly when he turned to calligraphic subjects and began embossing his designs. Maki used various printing techniques and media, but he is best known for his combined woodcut, stencil, lamination, and cement-relief block prints in which the cement-paste (cement mixed with water and chemical bond) was carved and scored while still wet. The blocks were then rubbed and pressed onto paper with as much hand pressure as possible to produce a raised relief or three-dimensional effect. He used both water-based and oil-based pigments. His style was sometimes abstract-calligraphic, sometimes representational. When he used calligraphic elements he attempted to introduce modernist aspects to their shapes, sometimes abandoning their traditional forms, adding or subtracting strokes, or rearranging them for aesthetic or expressive effect. Gaston Petit (see 1973 ref. below) wrote that Maki was fascinated by the "plastic qualities which can be varied indefinitely ... [and was] most strongly concerned with its visual effectiveness and force, definitely oriented toward the decorative."

Maki completed an much-admired project in 1969 when he designed 21 block prints to accompany ancient poetic songs (kayô) composed from the 5th to 9th century that had been compiled in a handwritten scroll called the Kinkafu ("Music for wagon wheels"). The title refers to an early Japanese harp, a precursor to the modern koto. The Kinkafu scroll was discovered only in 1924, although five of the same poems were known in the Kojiki (712 A.D.). Maki's designs offered a highly successful complement to the content and spirit of the poems.

In 2016, Chua, et al. (Indianapolis Museum of Art; see ref. below) published a scientific paper describing a non-invasive, light-based analyis of four of Maki's brightly colored block, cement-paste, and laminated prints from his "Poem" series of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The authors identified "an extensive palette of luminous pigments" in these various prints, including common printing-ink colors such as aniline black (PBk1), carbon black (PBk7), phthalocyanine blue (PB15), Prussian blue (PB27), ultramarine blue (PB29), molybdate orange (PR104), chrome yellow (PY34), barium yellow (PY31), viridian (PG17), barium sulphate (PW21), and synthetic organic red pigments (PR3, PR22, PR48:3). The authors further concluded that Maki's material choices suggest the use of commercial paints that while similar in color, varied in composition over the years. Of particular note in these colorants was the occurrence of aniline black and molybdate orange, which had not been positively identified previously in fine art prints.


Maki's works included a broad range of inventive variations on the use of calligraphic shapes, and he is perhaps best known for prints that incorporated cement-paste techniques, sometimes with lamination. The print illustrated here, however, dispenses with these elements of design, instead relying on simple, brush-like forms and a gold-leaf circle. Onchi Kôshirô often featured the circle and substantial open space in his abstract works and book designs, and one cannot help but consider whether the master's visual vocabulary figured into Maki's choices here. As Gaston Petit (1973) wrote about Maki's work, "A few simple elements, spontaneously rendered, uniquely capture the beauty of space."

Maki Haku's prints are in numerous private collections and a large number of museums, including The Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts (Fine Arts Musuems of San Francisco); Art Institute of Chicago; British Museum; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg; Cincinnati Art Museum;Harvard Art Museums; Honolulu Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and Philadelphia Museum of Art .


  • Blakemore, Frances: Who's Who in Modern Japanese Prints. New York: Weatherhill, 1975, pp. 99-100.
  • Brannen, Noah and Elliott, William: Festive Wine: Ancient Japanese Poems from the Kinkafu. (Illustrated with 21 block prints by Haku Maki). New York: Weatherhill, 1969.
  • Chua, Lynn; Hoevel, Claire; and Smith, Gregory: "Characterization of Haku Maki prints from the 'Poem' series using light-based techniques," in: Heritage Science, 2016, article no. 25.
  • Michener, James: The Modern Japanese Print. An Appreciation. Rutland: Tuttle, 1968, pp. 52-54.
  • Gaston, Petit: 44 modern print artists. Tokyo/San Francisco: Kodansha, 1973, pp. 210-219, plate C-34 and C-44, and nos. 123-130.
  • Petit, Gaston and Arboleda, Amadio: Evolving Techniques in Japanese Woodblock Prints. Kodansha, 1977, pp. 63-69 and figs. 40-58.
  • Smith, Lawrence: Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989. London: British Museum Press, 1994, pp. 30, 61-62, and nos. 107-108
  • Tretiak Daniel: The life and works of Haku Maki. Parker: Outskirts Press; 2007