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Fujita Tsuguharu And Innovation In Japan

1866 words - 7 pages

Fujita Tsuguharu was a pivotal character in the promotion and innovation of Japan as a country. As a diverse and popular individual in Paris, he gained fame and wealth while he developed his painterly style in the 1920s. He sought to reinvent and the “European nude” to sate the hunger of both the narcissistic European cultures and to uplift the Japanese style of painting. This was to evolve Japan’s culture and help to attain a national identity. The Second World War, however, brought about a change that attributed to a diversion in Fujita’s style in paintings. A transformation into a dark, graphic, realism was the focus, yet there was always that lingering attempt to solidify Japan’s identity. It is certainly reflective of the sacrifice of one for the benefit of the whole.
A Japanese painter, Tsuguharu was born the year 1866 in Tokyo, Japan under his birth name Fujita. In his adolescence, he familiarized himself with French oil painting techniques and applied them to Japanese stylized artworks. Tsuguharu graduated from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music; following his graduation, Tsuguharu travelled to Paris where he furthered his familiarity with Western art and art forerunners such as, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Amedeo Modigliani (citation). Although he mostly lived in France, Tsuguharu would make periodic trips to Japan; in the closing days before World War II he returned to Japan. As if inevitably, Tsuguharu left Japan in 1949 and went back to France, settling a year later and officially becoming a French citizen in 1955. Upon becoming a French citizen and converting to the Roman Catholicism, he was christened with the name Leonard in 1966.
During Tsuguharu’s initial visit to Paris, he developed his version of the European nude through his oil painting entitled, “Reclining Nude,” 1931 (Appendix A). The painting is extremely monochromatic using mainly white and gold highlights for the woman’s hair. He uses a technique in paints much similar to that of his acquaintance Umehara Ryuzaburo. The technique Tsuguharu developed involved the mixture of Japanese mineral pigments – iwaenogu – into his own oil paints, which allowed for his distinct renditions of skin (citation). He used a thin Japanese ink brush, referred to as a mensōfude, to apply contours using Japanese ink – nihon no bokujū (citation). As a result of this technique, Tsuguharu was able to have ink based mediums combine with oil paintings rather than float on its surface, vulnerable to rub off. Fujita was able to grab attention with this painting due to his contrasting with Paris Fauvism, which oft used bright and attention grabbing colours compared to his monochromatic tones in his works. Fujita often makes references of his European nude paintings to his previous wives. For Reclining Nude, it may be assumed that the woman depicted is representative to his second wife from 1923 to 1931 because of her “snow-like” skin (citation). As he was manufacturing this painting he...

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