Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889 - 1953)
Virginia City, Nevada, 1941
Gouache on gesso panel
12 x 18 inches
Signed at upper right: Kuniyoshi
William Thon style frame
American Modernist Yasuo Kuniyoshi was a native of Japan, born in Okayama, and attended elementary and technical schools there. At the age of sixteen he came to the United States, and settled in Seattle. Kuniyoshi attended night school at the Los Angeles School of Art, and in 1910, he moved to New York where he attended the National Academy of Design. He also studied at the Robert Henri School, the Independent School, and the Art Students League with Kenneth Hayes Miller. Later he became a teacher at the League.
Kuniyoshi first exhibited his paintings in 1917, a year which coincided with his exposure to the dynamic modernism of the artists “Pop” Hart and Jules Pascin, whom he later met in Paris. He visited Europe for the first time in 1925, spending time primarily in Paris and Venice, and thoroughly absorbing the modernist aesthetic. Back in the United States Kuniyoshi spent several summers in Ogunquit, Maine, and was associated with the art colony there.
In 1922 and 1928, Kuniyoshi had one-man shows at the Daniel Gallery in New York City. His career truly ascended in the 1930’s when he was invited to exhibit at the legendary Downtown Gallery, owned by Edith Halpert in Greenwich Village. In 1932, Kuniyoshi was commissioned to do a mural at Radio City Music Hall in Rockefeller Center, New York City. Described as "combining the aesthetics of East and West" and a "magical garden evoking his world of fantasy with delicately rendered larger-than-life botanical designs", the floral motif was well received by the public. Kuniyoshi also received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935.