Obata: Lake Basin in the High Sierra (Sold)
Artist: Chiura Obata (1885-1975)
Title: Lake Basin in the High Sierra
One of Obata’s most famous printed works. According to the Obata family records, a total of 107 impressions were needed to complete the printing of this work. There are numerous progressive proof impressions for this design (at least 79), a number of which were published in “Obata’s Yosemite”. This is an artist’s proof of the completed print that comes directly from Obata’s estate, outside the Takamizawa edition of 100. The colors are brighter than those seen on many of the numbered Takamizawa impressions. The curator Janet Driesbach in “Obata’s Yosemite” even surmised that “It is possible that this first print was created without the collaboration of Takamizawa” (page 67). The colors on this example correspond almost exactly to the Achenbach example, also unsigned. Obata himself wrote about this view “For just two months in the year the nameless lake nestling at the foot of Johnson Peak in the High Sierra comes to life from its winter slumber. Rocks and five-needle pines along the shore cling to each other tightly. Countless streams run down the frozen mountainside, lending a sublime melody. Man’s very soul and body seem to melt away into the singular silence and tranquility of the surrounding air.” From the World Landscape series, the groundbreaking effort that Obata spent all his savings on creating with the highest possible standards. The project employed more than 32 carvers and 40 printers for eighteen months. In order to give the effect of a watercolor, scores of blocks were used for each design, and specially prepared paper was made. This example actually has brighter colors than the signed example in the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection. There is a greatly beloved large painting on silk of this scene by Obata in the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The major retrospective “Chiura Obata: American Modern” would have just finished its final stop at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on May 25, 2020.
Dimensions: 33.5 x 45.5 cm
Series: World Landscape Series Lit: “Obata’s Yosemite”, page 61.
Signature: Unsigned, as is common