Biographic Information• Born in Okayama, Japan• Years: 1893-1953• 1906: moved to the United States• 1910: moved to New York • Schooling: Los Angeles School of Art and Design National Academy of Design Independent School of Art *Art Students League
More Biographic Information• By 1930, he had established himself as an internationally-known painter and graphic artist• First president of the Artists’ Equity Association (1947-1950)• First wife: Katherine Schmidt, Second wife Sara Mazo, who survived him and preserved his art
Why is he important?
WWII Involvement• War posters and illustrations, radio scripts, broadcasts
Citizenship• Was Kuniyoshi turning his back on Japan? – Becoming American suggests he was trying to prove loyalty, not bash the other side (15-16)
What it Means to be Japanese in the United States• Identity Crisis – Saw self as American and strongly believed in democracy, but Americans saw him as Oriental (Correspondences 3 and 4) – 1919: Kuniyoshi’s wife loses U.S. citizenship – 1922: Supreme Court ruling prohibiting Japanese from becoming U.S. citizens – 1924: Johnson-Reed Act prohibiting the immigration of Japanese to America
Artwork• Lithographs, paint• Circus girls, nudes• Still lifes, landscapes
Differences Between Two Paintings• Use of space? – Shading and texture – Flattening of space in Somebody Tore My Poster foregrounds both the figure and the poster, suggesting that they are equally important to the painting’s meaning – Often Kuniyoshi painted his figures with smooth and subtle shading that contrasts with his swifter brushstrokes in the background
Now Consider: Somebody and At Work (1943)
Artists in Wartime• Role of artists: ignore war and keep painting or work at defense factory? (pictures=public/active vs. private/away from world)• Kuniyoshi: “ as a ‘member of the world,’ the artist should continue to make art and contribute all one can to help ‘destroy the forces that are menacing its [the world’s] existence” (Wang, 14)
Defining the Artist• How do you define Kuniyoshi? – Self-identification (USA) or external perception (JPN)• How do you define “American”?• How does art work in depicting Americanness? – Becoming American suggests that artists are not imitators or “assimilators” but are “critical participants” who “deploy art as a vital means to interrogate, interpret, and re-imagine ‘Americanness’” p. 9
Places You Can View His Art: Okayama, JapanWhitney Museum of American Art, New YorkOhara Museum of Art, Kurashiki (Japan)
Sources• http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/viewer/yasuo-k (First picture of Kuniyoshi_8/27/12_4:52p.m.)• http://www.pbase.com/omoses/image/61501 619 (Second picture of Kuniyoshi_8/27/12_4:54p.m.)• http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/yasuo- kuniyoshi-papers-9175/more#biohist (8/27/12)
Sources• http://www.art- it.asia/u/admin_ed_contri7/BxwlnzKUW50Tyc M2tXjF (Kuniyoshi and WWII_8/27/12)• http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/ artwork/?id=14109 (Strong Woman and Child Picture, The Cyclist_8/28/12)• http://faculty.baruch.cuny.edu/glevin/Article %201.pdf (8/28/12)
More Sources• http://blog.oricon.co.jp/kinren/archive/102/0• http://www.artexpertswebsite.com/pages/art ists/kuniyoshi.php• Wang, ShiPu. Becoming American? The Art and Identity Crisis of Yasuo Kuniyoshi. Honolulu: University of Hawai`I Press, 2011. Book.• Kuniyoshi, Yasuo. Yasuo Kuniyoshi. New York: American Artists Group, Incorporated, 1945. Book.