Yasuo Kuniyoshi

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Yasuo Kuniyoshi has been described as, "Japanese by birth but American by long residence and conviction" (Current Biography 477).

Yasuo Kuniyoshi was a Japanese-American painter born in Okayama, Japan, on September 1, 1893. At first, he was uninterested in becoming a artist and studied dyeing and weaving of fine fabrics. He was sent to the United States in 1906 to study methods of industrial production in the textile field, but ended up receiving Western artistic training. After starving at Seattle, he moved to Los Angeles to earn a living as a houseboy and a fruit picker, and to attend evening classes at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design for three years (Encyclopedia of American Art 304).

From 1912 to 1914, Kuniyoshi continued his education in New York at the National Academy of Design. In 1914, he changed schools to the Independent School of Art and studied under Homer Boss.

Two years later in 1916, he attended the Art Students League and studied under Kenneth Hayes Miller. There he met Alexander Brooks, Peggy Bacon, Reginald Marsh, Katherine Schmidt (whom he later married), and other artists. He was eventually introduced to the Penguin Club, where he met Jules Pascin, whose friendship had a considerable impression upon him (Encyclopedia of American Art 304). In 1917, he exhibited with the New Society of Independent Artists and soon found a patron, Hamilton Easter Field (Dictionary of Contemporary American Artists 327).

In 1922, Kuniyoshi held his first one-man exhibition and created a uproar. But he came through unscathed, "except for the astonishing assumption that I was a humorist." (Current Biography 478). An assumption made because of the landscapes he painted, grimacing babies in distorted, flattened shapes, and geometric cows with triangular hips. During the 1920s he continued to paint...