Paul Binnie, A Modern Girl of 1920, Flowers of a Hundred Years

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Original Japanese woodblock print.

Artist: Paul Binnie (1967-)
Title: A Modern Girl of 1920 (36/100)
Series: Flowers of a Hundred Years
Date: 2013
Dimensions: 32.8 x 47 cm
Condition: Very good.

The Japanese title Moga, is a contraction of the first two syllables of the two words of the phrase; i.e. modan (modern) and garu (girl). Moga were a cultural phenomenon similar to flappers in the West, young women who escaped from the paternalism and family controls of previous decades and did many things the older generations found shocking. They cut their hair into shorter styles, wore western-style clothes, smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol – such as the Manhattan cocktails we see here – while dancing or flirting with young men (hence two cocktails), things we might take for granted today, but which were a complete break with expectations of more traditional Japanese society. The 1920s were an economic boom period, and young women could have jobs that gave them freedom to live their lives away from controls and restrictions imposed by their parents’ generation. A flood of images and ideas from the West entered Japan between the wars, and the colour scheme of this design reflects the red, white and blue of the USA, Britain and France, all countries Moga were fascinated by.


The printing is lavish, and as well as 47 colour and bokashi (shading) printings, it employs mica, embossing, silver metallic pigment and 23-carat gold leaf.

Paul Binnie


Blending traditional methods with a modern style, Paul Binnie is working mostly under the influence of Shin-hanga movement, founded by the publisher Shozaburo Watanabe (1885-1962). Shozaburo was aiming to renew declining Ukiyo-e tradition and break into foreign markets by commissioning new, young artists who would work within the old co-operated system, composed of the publisher, artist, engraver and printers. However, Paul makes his own prints from beginning to the end by himself, as was done by artists of another post-war movement: Sosaku hanga.

He mostly works in several subjects such as kabuki, tattoo, landscape and beauty prints. His original plan had been to stay in Japan less than he actually did but once he started to sell his kabuki prints, he decided to expand his technique more and has created works of this subject until 1998 in Japan. His interest in Japanese tattoo was born when he saw Yakuza, members of the Japanese mafia who traditionally have body tattoos, bathing for the first time in a sento (Japanese-style public bath). He is still working on a series of woodblock prints of this theme. Near the end of 1997, he began to do Japanese landscape prints and these became a huge success.

More Information
Print FormatDai-Oban
ArtistPaul Binnie
SubjectBeauty & Female, Contemporary
Dimensions32.8 x 47 cm
Condition ReportVery good.