Leo Amino—born in Taiwan in 1911 where his father was an agricultural consultant for the Japanese government—was reared in Tokyo. In 1929, he immigrated to the United States and studied at San Mateo Junior College in California for two years and, later, at New York University. He remained in New York to work for a Japanese wood importing firm and took home ebony samples to carve. Although he had received no formal art training, his interest in sculpture grew rapidly and, in 1937, he studied briefly at the American Artists School with Chaim Gross, a leading proponent of direct carving.
Direct carving in wood or stone emphasizes properties of the material. The unique and distinctive patterns of veining, grain and color result in simplified sculptural forms and smooth geometrical outlines which harmonize with Amino’s native sensibilities.
His work was exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair and he was given his first solo exhibition in 1940. Since then, he has shown almost continuously in commercial galleries and museums. In 1947 and 1950, he taught at the renowned Black Mountain College in North Carolina.
Amino taught at Cooper Union from 1952 until 1977 and, during that period, he continued to experiment.
“Recent Acquisition.” National Museum of American Art Calendar of Events (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, October 1987)
Leo Amino was born in Taiwan and grew up in Tokyo. After moving to the United States in 1929, he studied direct carving, a technique that emphasizes the marks of the tools and the patterns in the wood or stone. Amino wanted to incorporate more color into his pieces, and he experimented with various methods, including painting wood, mixing pigments with plaster, and carving pieces of colored polystyrene. In 1948 he pioneered the technique of casting polyester resin, allowing him to apply color and texture directly between the transparent layers of his sculptures.