Paul Binnie A Modern Girl of 1920

Paul Binnie “A Modern Girl of 1920” artwork
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. There is a famous and rare print by the Shin Hanga (New Prints) artist Kobayakawa Kiyoshi called Horoyoi (Tipsy) of 1930, and this was a reference point for Moga, particularly in the strong deep-red background. However, Kiyoshi seems to criticise his slightly drunk, chubby and bleary-eyed model, whereas Paul Binnie's feeling about the new freedoms of the period is one of wholehearted support, and he celebrates the new-found independence women were taking for themselves at this time. The new print is in the same format as the first two designs in the set, Kuchi-e and Ebicha Hakama, a large dai-ōban format. As before in this set, 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
Paul Binnie
A Modern Girl of 1920
Japanese title
1920-nen no Moga 一九二〇年のモガ
Series title
Flowers of a Hundred Years
Japanese series title
Hyakunen no Hana 百年の華
Colour woodblock print on paper
Paper dimensions (h × w)
47 × 33.5 cm
Image dimensions (h × w)
43.5 × 29 cm
Edition size
Artist's proofs
Influenced by Kobayakawa Kiyoshi's Tipsy
Catalogue number
139 (L157)
Supplementary images