The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi
1st floor West, American Art Museum
(8th and F Streets, N.W.)
April 3, 2015 – August 30, 2015
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is organizing a major exhibition about Japanese-born artist Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889-1953). Kuniyoshi’s career and art evolved from innocence and early success to complexity and disillusionment. Born in Japan in 1889, Kuniyoshi came to the United States as a teenager and studied art in New York. He came into prominence during the 1920s through his distinctive modern figural style, original subjects, and humor. His work became more sensuous and worldly after two long stays in Paris, as he painted moody, reflective women and still lifes with unusual objects.
Kuniyoshi was thoroughly integrated into American life and the art world, but immigration law prevented him from becoming an American citizen. Classified an “enemy alien” after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he remained steadfastly on the side of his adopted country during the painful war years, working with the Office of War Information to create artworks indicting Japanese atrocities. After the war, Kuniyoshi developed a compelling late style, with bitter subjects and paradoxically bright colors.
The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi will be a highly selective survey of the artist’s seventy best paintings and drawings, chosen from leading public and private collections in America and Japan. It will be the first overview of Kuniyoshi’s work in more than twenty-five years. The guest curator is the leading Kuniyoshi scholar Tom Wolf, professor of art history at Bard College. Joann Moser, deputy chief curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is co-curator. A catalogue, written by Wolf, will accompany the exhibition.
The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. American Honda Motor Co., Inc. provided leadership support for the exhibition. Additional generous contributions have been provided by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Fukutake Foundation, Friends of Franklin Riehlman, the Sara Roby Foundation, and the Share Fund.