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Article

(b Nagoya, July 6, 1936; d New York, NY, May 18, 2010).

Japanese painter, performance artist, and film maker, active in the USA. He studied medicine and mathematics at Tokyo University (1954–8) and art at the Musashino College of Art in Tokyo, holding his first one-man exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo in 1958 and contributing to the Yomiuri Independent exhibitions from 1958 to 1961. In 1960 he took part in the ‘anti-art’ activities of the Neo-Dadaism Organizers in Tokyo and produced his first Happenings and a series of sculptures entitled Boxes, which consisted of amorphous lumps of cotton wads hardened in cement; many of these were put in coffin-like boxes, though one entitled Foetus was laid on a blanket. In pointing to the sickness of contemporary society, these works caused a great scandal in Tokyo.

In 1961 Arakawa settled in New York, where soon afterwards he addressed himself to the idea of a work being ‘untitled’. In taking as his subject this apparent lack of subject, he emphasized the areas of the picture surface where the subject ‘ought to be’ by means of a few well-placed coloured framing marks, as in ...

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(Aiko)

(b Norwalk, CA, Jan 24, 1926; d San Francisco, CA, Aug 5, 2013).

American sculptor, painter and draftsman. Asawa was born the fourth of seven children to Japanese immigrants and her childhood on a thriving truck farm formed her work ethic. During World War II, the Asawas were separated into different internment camps. At the Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas, Ruth was able to learn drawing from interned Japanese–American illustrators. In 1943 a scholarship allowed her to leave the camp to study at Milwaukee State Teachers College. However, when she realized that she could never find a teaching position in Wisconsin because of her Japanese ancestry, she headed to Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1946. The Black Mountain College community, including illustrious teachers such as Albers family, §1 and R(ichard) Buckminster Fuller, nurtured Asawa’s artistic foundation and philosophy. There she started on looped-wire sculpture after discovering the basket crocheting technique in Mexico in 1947. Upon graduation, she married her classmate, the architect Albert Lanier (...

Article

(Chinese Academy of Art)

Artists’ club formed in 1926 in San Francisco’s Chinatown. The club was composed of Guangdong immigrants in their late teens and early 20s. Its headquarters, which also served as a studio, teaching center, exhibition space and quite possibly a shared bedroom, was located in an upper room at 150 Wetmore Place, an alley on Chinatown’s western fringe. The exact membership is unknown—probably a dozen members at any given time—and its composition fluctuated greatly during its 15 or so years of existence. Its most famous members were Yun Gee, a co-founder and leader, and Eva Fong Chan (1897–1991), who was granted membership in the early 1930s and was the only woman known to belong. Unlike Fong, a former beauty queen who was a piano teacher married to a prominent Catholic businessman and privileged with an education, the young men were working-class and probably held the menial jobs reserved for most Chinese of their era, as servants, cooks, dishwashers and launderers....

Article

Anthony W. Lee

(b Gee Village [now Chu Village], Guangdong Province, China, Feb 22, 1906; d New York, NY, June 5, 1963).

American painter, poet, essayist and inventor. Gee traveled to San Francisco in 1921, joining his father, a merchant in Chinatown. In 1925 he enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) where he took classes with Otis Oldfield (1890–1969) and Gottardo Piazzoni and experimented for the first time in oils. A year later he co-founded two separate art collectives, the Modern Gallery, comprised mostly of white artists with substantial European-based training, and the Chinese Revolutionary Artists’ Club, comprised exclusively of young Chinese immigrants. The differences between the groups reflected an ongoing tension in Gee’s professional and political ambitions between the search for newer forms of modern art and the desire to ennoble a diasporic Chinese sensibility. He initially developed a style of short, choppy brushwork and the juxtaposition of hot and cold colors, and subjects based on the people, streets and goods of Chinatown. He would later call this practice “Diamondism.”...

Article

Mayching Kao

[ Wang Chi-ch’ien ; C. C. Wang ; ming Jiquan ]

(b Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, Feb 14, 1907; d New York, NY, July 3, 2003).

Chinese painter, calligrapher, collector, and connoisseur, active in the USA. Wang studied Chinese painting and connoisseurship first with Gu Linshi (1865–1933) in Suzhou and subsequently with Wu Hufan (1894–1968) in Shanghai, where he gained access to major painting collections, including that of the Palace Museum. In 1947 he toured the USA and two years later settled in New York. Thereafter he did much to promote the study of Chinese painting in the USA and was often invited to lecture at universities and to advise museums and collectors. Exhibitions of his work were held in prestigious institutions in both Asia and the USA. In keeping with his study of traditional Chinese paintings, in his early work Wang followed the orthodox masters ( see Orthodox school ) and continued the elegant styles of the later literati tradition ( see China, People’s Republic of §V 4., (ii) ). Living in New York put him in contact with trends in modern Western art. Finding parallels between Western abstract art and traditional Chinese painting with its emphasis on spiritual expression, from ...

Article

Arthur Silberman

(b Shungopori, AZ, c. 1900; d Feb 28, 1986).

Native American Hopi painter. He was born into a farming family and educated in traditional Hopi customs. As a child he scratched images of kachinas (supernatural beings) on rocks in his father’s field. He continued to draw such images when he attended the Santa Fe Indian School (see Native North American art, §IV, 2), later claiming that he did so to relieve his loneliness and to remind him of home. In 1918 he joined the informal painting sessions given at the school by Elizabeth DeHuff (1887–1983). Kabotie became one of the first Hopi artists to gain national recognition when in 1920 his work was shown at the annual exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York City. He was at his most productive in the 1920s and 1930s, executing such works as the Snake Dance (watercolour, c. 1922–30; New York, N. Mus. Amer. Ind.). His descriptive manner of shading and modelling, close attention to detail, meticulous brushwork and sophisticated use of and emphasis on colour became distinctive features of later Hopi painting. Kabotie also used traditional Native American techniques, such as painting on hides. In ...

Article

Akira Tatehata

(b Kariya, Aichi Prefect., Jan 2, 1933; d New York, June 2014).

Japanese painter, draughtsman, and conceptual artist, active in the USA. After graduating from Kariya High School in 1951, he moved to Tokyo, exhibiting at the Yomiuri Independent Exhibitions. His sensibility for a cold materialism became apparent in his series of drawings Bathroom, of dismembered grotesque nude bodies (1953–4; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.). Kawara went to Mexico in 1959 and travelled through Europe. He settled in New York in 1965. His renowned series of Date Paintings (from 1965), made in various cities on his travels, juxtapose a detail from a local newspaper with a simple record of the date in typographical letters and numbers on monochrome canvases using acrylic. The paintings’ principal meaning was that the artist and viewer shared the numbers that signified a date they both had lived. In the series of telegrams in the 1970s, which sent the message ‘I am still alive’ to his friends, he used the verification of his own existence as a statement in a medium whose abstraction, regardless of the artist’s hand, paradoxically gave his work a tense reality. His other work in book form, ...

Article

Joan Kee

(b La Jolla, CA, Sept 6, 1961).

American painter. Born of Korean parents, Kim studied English literature at Yale University where he received his degree in 1983. Following graduation, Kim studied painting at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture until 1986. He first gained visibility in the early 1990s for his early series of conceptual paintings that merged the formal vocabulary of canonical artistic practices, including hard-edge abstract painting and American minimalism, with references to racial and ethnic identity. Synecdoche (1991) is a grid consisting of hundreds of small quadrilateral canvases, each monochromatically painted in colours matching the skin tones of more than three hundred sitters. The work subtly yet visibly depicted the diversity of humankind within the modernist configuration of the grid. This duality between references to social and cultural implications and the utilization of a presumptively conservative mode of painting continued in similar-themed works such as Belly Paintings (1993) and ...

Article

Kate Wight

(b Oakland, CA, March 31, 1911; d New York, NY, May 12, 2000).

American painter of Chinese descent. Best known for his watercolor paintings and work in the Hollywood film industry, Kingman’s work is considered influential in developing the “California Style” school of painting.

Kingman, born Dong Moy Shu, traveled to Hong Kong with his family at the age of 5 and began his formal education at the Bok Jai School. There he was given the school name “King Man,” which means “scenery” and “composition” in Cantonese. He later combined the two names. Kingman’s education continued at the Chan Sun Wen School, where he studied calligraphy and painting. In his late teens he returned to Oakland and in 1929 Kingman attended the Fox Morgan Art School, where his focus turned primarily to watercolor painting.

In 1936 Kingman gained success and national recognition with a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Art Association. Kingman’s work was largely watercolor paintings, which depicted landscapes and urban environments. Throughout the late 1930s Kingman painted over 500 works as an artist in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and served as an artist with the US Army during World War II. In the years after the war Kingman settled in Brooklyn, NY, and was an instructor at Columbia University and Hunter College. He was also a founding faculty member of the Famous Artists Painting School of Westport, CT....

Article

Sook-Kyung Lee

One of the characteristics of Korean contemporary art is a continuous effort in employing and interpreting international art practices and discourses. Art movements from Europe and North America in particular, including Abstract Expressionism, Art informel, Minimalism, Conceptual art and Post-modernism, have influenced many Korean artists’ styles and ideas since the 1950s, providing formal and conceptual grounds for critical understandings and further experiments. Whilst some artists who maintained traditional art forms such as ink painting and calligraphy exercised modernist styles and abstract forms largely within the norms and conventions of traditional genres, a large group of artists proactively adapted to Western styles, employing new materials and techniques as well as the notions of avant-garde and experimentalism (see fig.).

A major critique of the reception of Western art and aesthetics came from ‘Minjung art’ (People’s Art) in the 1980s as part of instigating a nationalist and politically charged art strategy. Several art historians and critics who emerged in the 1990s also expanded the scope of the debate with postcolonial and pluralist points of view. The shift in social, economic and political environments played an important role in changing sensibilities in art, along with the advances of technology and new media in the 2000s. The high degree of diversity and sophistication of Korean art in terms of media and subject matters became widely acknowledged within and outside the nation, and an increasing number of artists started to work on the cutting edge of international art....

Article

David M. Sokol

(b Okayama, Sept 1, 1893; d Woodstock, NY, May 14, 1953).

American painter, photographer and printmaker of Japanese birth. He arrived in the USA in 1906 and studied at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design from 1907 to 1910. He then moved to New York, studying, in rapid succession, with Robert Henri at the National Academy of Design, at the Independent School of Art and from 1916 to 1920 with Kenneth Hayes Miller at the Art Students League. He supported himself through his later art studies and thereafter as an art photographer. He travelled to Europe in 1925 and again in 1928, settling in Paris, where he studied lithography at the Atelier Desjoubert. After a trip back to Japan in 1931 he worked on the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration during the Depression. Paintings such as Fisherman (1924; New York, MOMA) show both his interest in Surrealism and a blend of his two cultures. His massive forms of the late 1930s and early 1940s, as in ...

Article

Miwako Tezuka

(b Okayama prefecture, Japan, Nov 18, 1885; d California, Oct 6, 1975).

Japanese-born American painter. Obata is known for his sumi ink paintings, watercolors and woodblock prints depicting California landscapes. After studying Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) at the Japan Fine Arts Academy in Tokyo, he moved to San Francisco in 1903 to pursue career in art, and soon began working as an illustrator for local publications for the Japanese American community. In 1921, when ethnic prejudice was still rampant, he co-founded the East West Art Society in San Francisco to foster multicultural communication through art. In 1928, he returned to Japan where he produced award-winning series of 35 woodblock prints of majestic landscapes of Yosemite, based on his extensive survey and sketches of the region in the previous year.

From 1932, Obata taught at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, but his career came to a halt with the outbreak of World War II, when he and his family were interned at Tanforan in San Bruno, CA, from ...

Article

Toru Asano

(b Yokohama, Sept 28, 1902; d Tokyo, July 25, 1982).

American painter of Japanese birth. In 1922 he entered the department of Western painting at Tokyo School of Fine Arts, but in 1924 he went to France where he studied with Tsugouharu Foujita and executed paintings of urban subjects. In 1927 he returned to Japan. From 1929 he displayed works at the exhibition of the Nikakai (Second Division Society), of which he became a member in 1937. He went to New York in 1950, settling and working there as a painter. In New York he produced abstract paintings. Undoubtedly stimulated by Abstract Expressionism, these nevertheless display a strong Japanese sensibility and feeling for form; the works Abstraction No. 7 (1953; Purchase, SUNY, Neuberger Mus.) and Memories (1957; New York, Whitney), for example, reveal subtle changes in the natural world through the use of imagery constructed with delicate, sensitive colour tonalities, floating within the compositional space. He also painted numerous works that used as a point of departure the reinterpretation of the decorative effects of traditional Japanese painting (...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

[Lawrence]

(b Ogibuko, Japan, Oct 1, 1937).

American painter. He first attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 1955 but entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts two years later to study painting. He left the school after six months and in 1958 moved to New York. There he became influenced by the hard-edge geometric compositions of American abstract painters such as Stuart Davis and Fritz Glarner and by the late works of Piet Mondrian. At the same time Poons met Barnett Newman, who became a source of inspiration and support. Having been advised to simplify his work by curator and writer Henry Geldzahler (b 1935), who introduced him to the proto-Minimalist abstractions of Frank Stella, Poons began to draw points on graph paper that he would then connect with lines, soon focusing on the points themselves by applying small or large dots of oil paint on backgrounds of vivid acrylic paint. These dot paintings possessed the vibrating optical intensity typical of ...

Article

Jean Robertson and Craig McDaniel

The final decades of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century witnessed an increasing propensity for artists to incorporate aspects of science in their own art. In many fields of scientific research—including the cloning of mammals, the genetic modification of crops, the creation of bioengineered organs and tissues, advances in nanotechnology and robotics, experimental research in how the human mind works and the study of artificial intelligence—the frontiers of knowledge pushed outward at an accelerated pace. In the spirit of creative inquiry, or in order to critique the goals and outcomes of scientific experimentation and application, artists regularly borrowed subjects, tools and approaches from science as a means to the production of art ( see fig. ).

In documenting and assessing the achievements of visual artists engaged with science, there was no broad consensus on the categorisation of artists’ work across the full range of activities, methods, motivations and use of materials. Assessments of artistic practice focused on artists’ work categorised by the traditional fields of science (e.g. artists who explore biology, artists who explore physical sciences). Other analyses of artistic practice focused on categories of art media (e.g. artists who use traditional means such as carving and casting to represent scientific discoveries, artists who explore and employ biological materials and scientific instruments)....

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(b Seattle, WA, 1939).

American painter of Japanese ancestry (sansei or third generation). The subjects in Shimomura’s paintings, prints and performances have largely stemmed from his personal experience of living as an ethnic minority in the Midwest and his grandmother’s diaries chronicling her immigration and adjustment to the USA in the early 20th century. By incorporating the seemingly disparate images from the historical and contemporary sources, Shimomura has presented captivating visual essences that bespeak of the multi-generational experience not only of Japanese–Americans, but also of Asian Americans. His works constituted significant critiques of the racial prejudices deeply rooted in the American society, alarming the viewer that the roots of prejudice could be found in all individuals.

At age three, Shimomura’s earliest visual memory was formed in Camp Minidoka in the southern Idaho desert, where he and his family, along with thousands of other Japanese–Americans, were detained from 1942 to 1944. Shimomura’s distant memory was revived after reading his grandmother’s diaries, which offered the ground narratives for many series of paintings: ...

Article

Karin Higa

[ Yuzuru ]

(b Wakayama, Japan, March 12, 1900; d New York City, NY, May 8, 1990).

American painter of Japanese birth. Sugimoto immigrated to the USA in 1919, when he joined his parents, who had previously settled in Hanford, a central California farming community. In 1924, he enrolled at the California School of Arts and Crafts in Oakland (now known as the California College of the Arts) to study painting, and later continued at the California School of Fine Arts (now known as the San Francisco Art Institute). He traveled to Paris in 1929, where he studied at the Académie Colarossi and exhibited his paintings at the 1931 Salon d’Automne and regional exhibitions in nearby Crècy and Lagny. By 1932, he returned to San Francisco, where his landscapes of the French and California countryside garnered increasing attention, including a solo exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in 1933, and exhibitions at the Oakland Art Gallery (now Oakland Museum of California) and San Francisco Museum of Art (now San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). In ...

Article

Reiko Tomii

[ Tenmyōya ]

(b Musashino, Feb 10, 1966).

Japanese painter and graphic artist . Mostly self-taught, from childhood he loved to draw and he joined a high-school painting club. In 1983 the American film Wild Style (1982) inspired him to study hip-hop culture and become a graffiti artist. While working as a graphic designer of CD jackets at a record company, Tenmyouya submitted his art works to major competitive exhibitions for graphic artists such as Urbanart and JACA (Japan Association of Art and Culture’s visual art competition) and was often successful. His trapezoidal Manga Ukiyo-e series received a special award in JACA ’97 by reinterpreting the popular media of manga and ukiyo-e, as well as the life of modern yakuza outlaws, a popular TV and film subject. In 2000 Tenmyouya left his design job and had his first solo exhibition at a rental gallery, Harajuku, in Tokyo. He also found an outlet for his graphically oriented works in the print media, starting his monthly contribution of the ...

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(b Onomichi, Japan, 1936).

American painter of Japanese birth. Teraoka moved to the USA in 1961 after studying art at the Kwansai Gakuin University in Kobe, Japan. He pursued his BA and MFA at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles in the late 1960s. While Teraoka’s output has varied in styles, he has consistently addressed contemporary socio-political issues that have preoccupied the American public, including the Americanization of Japanese culture, AIDS, gay marriage, sex scandals, privacy invaded by the internet and human cloning.

Teraoka’s early watercolors and prints in the 1970s emulated the flat and bold aesthetic style of 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints. Series such as McDonald’s Hamburgers Invading Japan comically satirized the far-reaching American cultural impacts on Japan. Responding to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Teraoka created mural-scale canvases and panels depicting geishas and samurais fighting condoms or contracting the disease.

Since the late 1990s, Teraoka has turned his attention to even darker topics, most notably the sex scandals involving priests and politicians. To better suit these contemporary Euro-American topics, Teraoka drew aesthetic inspiration from 15th- and 16th-century Dutch and Italian religious paintings, and adopted the medium of oil painting. In his 6-m horizontal painting ...

Article

Michelle Yun

(b Portland, OR, July 11, 1946; d San Francisco, CA, Aug 12, 1999).

Chinese–American painter and ceramicist. Wong was raised in San Francisco’s Chinatown and received a BA in Ceramics from Humboldt State University in 1968. After graduation, Wong became involved in San Francisco’s performance art scene and worked as a set painter for the Angels of Light Performance Troupe throughout the 1970s. At the age of 30, he decided to become a painter and moved to New York in 1978.

A self-taught painter, Wong’s early realist works often incorporated text and sign language, as in Psychiatrists Testify: Demon Dogs Drive Man to Murder (1980). In 1981 the artist moved to the Lower East Side, a predominantly black and Latino community that would serve as inspiration for the next decade. Wong was a key member of the East Village art scene in the 1980s. His gritty, heavily painted canvases depict the harsh realities of urban life through barren cityscapes of concrete, brick and steel (...