Chiura Obata’s Evening at Carl Inn (progressive proof No. 6)

Selected Artworks from Chiura Obata: American Modern

A watercolor image of a small inn surrounded by trees.

Chiura Obata, Evening at Carl Inn (progressive proof No. 6), 1929-1930, color woodcut on paper, 15 5/8 x 10 7/8 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2005.17.8, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani.

About this Artwork

When Obata returned to Japan for his father’s funeral in 1928, he collaborated with the Takamizawa Mokuhansha workshop in Tokyo to transform some of his watercolors into woodblock prints. A team of thirty-two carvers and forty printers assembled dozens of blocks to replicate the brushstrokes and colors of the original watercolors; Obata supervised this meticulous process and retained many of the test prints. Exhibited here are fifteen of the 130 progressive proofs from Evening at Carl Inn. Early proofs lay down the overall composition, while others experimented with ink values to define light and dark zones. Later proofs reveal only minute changes in color, showing the careful attention Obata gave to every aspect of the project.