JAPAN PRINT LIBRARY
The Marangi’s interest in ukiyoe was piqued during a totally unplanned and very brief viewing of a single Kunisada kakemono at a small local museum in Southern California in the mid 1960’s. The diptych print was displayed in an environment which was totally at odds with its associated Hispanic works of art. But the print so intrigued the Marangi’s, that a lifelong pursuit of the genre began. Starting with nothing more than the word ukiyoe, they applied their combined interest in art history to a still ongoing passion for adding to the collection.
Over the last 45 years, the collection has moved with the Marangi’s as they worked, traveled and played around the world. The Marangi’s have moved 18 times during their marriage and lived in a variety of cultural situations. From the sophisticated cities of North America to the laconic islands of Micronesia, their ardor for collecting kept the pursuit alive and the collection growing.
Ron and Erma had careers in marketing/finance and risk management respectively. Ron was employed by international business conglomerates primarily as a start up and turnaround specialist. Erma enjoyed great success as an insurance broker and later as a specialty business administrator.
Their final assignments as corporate principals located them in Southeast Asia for ten years. This close proximity to Japan allowed unsurpassed access to the galleries and scholars specializing in ukiyoe. This opportunity for regular visits to the source of the inspiration of ukiyoe was irreplaceable in guiding the ongoing development of the collection.
After long careers in the corporate sector, they semi retired to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains to manage their real estate investments located throughout California and to begin the task of making sense of a huge cache of things ukiyoe.
Collecting prints was at first a hobby as well as a relatively inexpensive means of owning pieces of fascinating Japanese art. As their understanding and appreciation of ukiyoe grew they slowly gave the print portion of the collection a refined and more informed focus.
Over the years, opportunism or local cultural awareness often played a role in adding to the collection. As an example, while living in Micronesia, they were able to garner a firsthand sensitivity to the images and cultures which impressed the French ukiyoe influenced artist, Paul Jacoulet. This led to them developing a large grouping of Jacoulet’s Micronesian studies.
Most importantly as far as the collection’s focus is concerned, was the realization by the Marangi’s that they were going to run out of money before they ran out of great prints to add to the collection. Thus in 1992, they made the decision to aim their collecting efforts toward assembling a world class grouping of surimono. Surimono prints now comprise ten percent of the collection.
Unique to surimono, the wide range of exquisite hand applied embellishments coupled with the unparalleled high degree of workmanship coordination among the participants in the inspiration, creation and publishing of surimono, provide these special prints with advantages when reproduced by modern image reproduction techniques.
The surimono in the collection were thus chosen to be the first print type to be included in the website images of what is an outstanding representation of the broad field of ukiyoe.
The UKIYOE PRINT LIBRARY bibliography is extensive and will be installed on the website shortly. The acquisition of new titles is ongoing. Again, the emphasis in new library acquisitions is surimono.