Obata’s Yosemite

Chiura Obata (1885 – 1975), born in Okayama-ken, Japan, was one of the earliest Japanese artists to live and work in the United States. He moved to San Francisco in 1903, supporting himself as an illustrator for Japanese language newspapers and magazines, while painting in the moro-tai style of contemporary Japanese art. In 1927, he visited Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada, where he made approximately 100 drawings in pencil, watercolor, and sumi ink. He recalled his visit to Yosemite as the greatest harvest for my whole life and future in painting.” The following year, he returned to Japan for a visit and brought thirty-five of the drawings to be translated into color woodcuts.

Description

Between 1928 and 1930, while Obata was in Tokyo, he transformed these California landscape watercolors and sketches into a limited-edition portfolio titled World Landscape Series. The final intricate woodblock prints—some required more than 150 separate working proofs—resemble Obata’s watercolors, with lines like brush strokes and areas of delicately layered color. They are characterized by a distinctive merging of Japanese and Western printmaking styles and techniques.

Visiting Information

February 22, 2008 — June 312008
Open Daily, 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m
Free Admission

Tour Schedule

Wichita Falls Museum of Art
Wichita Falls, TX
April 19, 2024 April 19, 2024
Federal Hall National Memorial
New York, NY
April 19, 2024 April 19, 2024

Credit

Obata's Yosemite is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibition's tour is supported in part by the C.F. Foundation, Atlanta, and the William R. Kenan, Jr. Endowment Fund.

Online Gallery

Chiura Obata, Before Thunderstorm, Tuolumne Meadows, 1930, color woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.7, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani
Before Thunderstorm, Tuolumne Meadows
Date1930
color woodcut on paper
Not on view
Chiura Obata, El Capitan, n.d., watercolor on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2005.17.1, © 1989, Yuri Kodani
El Capitan
Daten.d.
watercolor on paper
Not on view
Chiura Obata, Evening at Carl Inn, 1930, color woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.6, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani
Evening at Carl Inn
Date1930
color woodcut on paper
Not on view
Chiura Obata, Evening Glow at Mono Lake, from Mono Mills, 1930, color woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.10, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani
Evening Glow at Mono Lake, from Mono Mills
Date1930
color woodcut on paper
Not on view
Chiura Obata, Lake Basin in the High Sierra, 1930, color woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.25, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani
Lake Basin in the High Sierra
Date1930
color woodcut on paper
Not on view
Chiura Obata, Life and Death, Porcupine Flat, 1930, color woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.3, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani
Life and Death, Porcupine Flat
Date1930
color woodcut on paper
Not on view
Chiura Obata, Merced River, Yosemite Valley, 1930, color woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.20, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani
Merced River, Yosemite Valley
Date1930
color woodcut on paper
Not on view
Chiura Obata, Mono Crater, 1930, color woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.9, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani
Mono Crater
Date1930
color woodcut on paper
Not on view
Chiura Obata, Tadeo Takamizawa, Morning At Mono Lake, 1930, color woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.2, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani
Morning At Mono Lake
Date1930
color woodcut on paper
Not on view
Chiura Obata, Passing Rain, 1930, color woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.12, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani
Passing Rain
Date1930
color woodcut on paper
Not on view
Chiura Obata, Upper Lyell Fork, near Lyell Glacier, 1930, color woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.5, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani
Upper Lyell Fork, near Lyell Glacier
Date1930
color woodcut on paper
Not on view

Tour

The exhibition traveled to the Wichita Falls Museum of Art in Wichita Falls, Texas in 2008 and Federal Hall National Memorial in New York, New York in 2009.

Artists

Media - portrait_image_114976.jpg - 138083
Chiura Obata
born Okayama-ken, Japan 1885-died Berkeley, CA 1975

Chiura Obata (1885-1975) was one of the most significant Japanese American artists working on the West Coast in the last century.