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Angura: Posters of the Japanese Avant-Garde documents the extraordinary posters created for a group of experimental Japanese theatre groups during the 1960s and 70s. Ranging from the vivid and sexually explicit images of sixties psychedelia to the subtle refinement of traditional Japanese printmaking, the posters represent a tumultuous period both in Japanese graphic arts and in Japanese society as a whole. Silkscreened with up to twenty different colors and printed in limited editions, the posters were ostensibly meant as advertisements for the theatre productions of a thriving counterculture. But the designers focused such lavish care on the posters that they were rarely finished before the productions opened, eliminating their commercial function and making them objects of art. Author David G. Goodman illuminates these arresting images, describes the context in which they were created, and provides a brief history of modern Japanese graphic design. In the foreword, Ellen Lupton discusses the relevance of these images for the contemporary designer. Angura will appeal to anyone interested in Japanese anime graphics.
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David G. Goodman is a professor of Japanese literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. An expert in Japanese culture and theatre, he founded and edited the magazine Concerned Theatre Japan while living in Japan in the 1960s. His books inReview:
The book reproduces, in glorious color, many of these prints and shows how risk-taking in the use of color, typography and sexual imagery-created posters that simply exuded subversiveness ("angura" means "underground"). Traces of everything from Art Nouveau to anime, from Bauhaus to Warhol are visible. Many are visually provocative, even erotically charged. Culled from an era when Japan had bounced back from World War II and was reclaiming its cultural spot in the world, this is a fascinating look at how the global images streaming into the country joined with traditional Japanese design and printing elements to create a very unusual aesthetic. Associated Press
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