Yasuo Kuniyoshi

Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1 September 1893– 14 May 1953) was an American painter, photographer and printmake
Kuniyoshi was born in Okayama, Japan in 1893. He migrated to America in 1906, choosing not to attend military school in Japan. Kuniyoshi originally intended to study English and return to Japan to work as a translator. He spent some time in Seattle, before enrolling at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design.Kuniyoshi spent three years in Los Angeles, discovering his love for the arts. He then moved to New York City to pursue an art career. Kuniyoshi studied briefly at the National Academy and at the Independent School in New York City, and then studied under Kenneth Hayes Miller at the Art Students League of New York.He later taught at the Art Students League of New York in New York City and in Woodstock, New York. Nan Lurie was among his students. Around 1930, the artist built a home and studio on Ohayo Mountain Road in Woodstock. He was an active member of the artistic community there for the rest of his life






Kuniyoshi was also known for his still-life paintings of common objects, female circus performers and nudes. Throughout Kuniyoshi’s career he had frequent changes in his art: methods and subject matter. In the 1920s, Kuniyoshi painted images that were more angular, somewhat Cubist style and a tilted plane that allowed him to paint the most detail for each object in his paintings. Kuniyoshi’s application of Cubism’s angularity can be seen in his painting titled Little Joe with Cow (1923). In these early paintings, Kuniyoshi was painting from a combination of his memory and imagination, which is a Japanese mode of thinking about painting. Instead of painting from life, like in Western painting, traditional Japanese painters typically paint the ideal image of a particular subject matter. Kuniyoshi combines this with Western painting in the way he applies the bold colors in oil on canvas; in Japan, traditional painters use ink on either silk or rice paper. These early paintings are the precursors to his mature style that we see in the 1930s.




It was in the 1930s that Kuniyoshi switched from painting from memory to painting from life. This change occurred after his two trips to Europe in 1925 and 1928 where he was exposed to French modern art. In 1928, Goodrich notes, Kuniyoshi spent most of his time in Paris, France with his friend Jules Pascin and it was in this later trip that Kuniyoshi realized that his art had grown stale.By switching to painting from life and incorporating perspective into his paintings, he was able to breathe life back into his images; the change in his style can be seen in Daily News (1935). In this painting it appears that the woman, who is seated in a chair, occupies space within the room depicted as opposed to appearing flat as in Little Joe with Cow. The sharp angles in the cow painting are gone in his painting of the woman, but the soft line work and bold use of colors are apparent in both images.




Kuniyoshi's "Artificial Flowers and Other Things" appeared in Whitney Museum's "Second Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting," which ran from November 27, 1934, to January 10, 1935, and included the work of one other Japanese-American artist, Hideo Noda.
Even in his images of women where they are full-bodied and seem to have a presence in the painting, such as the woman in Daily News, Kuniyoshi did not entirely throw out painting from memory. Goodrich points out that Kuniyoshi did not work with models for the entire painting process. Rather, the artist drew from the model in the early stages of a painting but eventually stopped using her after about a week, or so, and then would continue on from his memory, making adjustments as he saw fit.This desire to paint the ideal perfection of a subject was favored in Japanese art, whereas in Western traditions the painting is typically informed by the real object throughout the entire painting process.Wikipedia





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