Akita-no Gyoji - The Events in Akita (6)

Akita-no Gyoji - The Events in Akita (6)
Akita-no Gyoji, The Events in Akita, painted by Fujita Tsuguharu or Leonard Foujita (1886-1968) in 3/7/1937 (from 2/21 to 3/7). This painting was ordered by Hirano Masakichi in Akita. Now collection of the Hirano Masakichi Art Museum.

Size: h. 3.65 m x l. 20. 5 m (11.98' x 67.2'), took 174 hours.

This painting never went to public until 1967.

LEONARD FOUJITA

In 1910 when he was twenty-four years old Foujita graduated from what is now the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

Paris. Three years later he went to Montparnasse in Paris, France. When he arrived there, knowing nobody, he met Amedeo Modigliani, Pascin, Chaim Soutine, and Fernand Léger and became friends with Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Foujita claimed in his memoir that he met Picasso less than a week after his arrival, but a recent biographer, relying on letters Foujita sent to his first wife in Japan, clearly shows that it was several months until he met Picasso. He also took dance lessons from the legendary Isadora Duncan. Foujita had his first studio at no. 5 rue Delambre in Montparnasse where he became the envy of everyone when he eventually made enough money to install a bathtub with hot running water. Many models came over to Foujita's place to enjoy this luxury, among them Man Ray's very liberated lover, Kiki, who boldly posed for Foujita in the nude in the outdoor courtyard. Another portrait of Kiki titled "Reclining Nude with Toile de Jouy," shows her lying naked against an ivory-white background. It was the sensation of Paris at the Salon d'Automne in 1922, selling for more than 8,000 francs.

Latin America and Japan. In 1930, income tax troubles and an extramarital affair set him off on a lengthy tour of the United States and Latin America, ending with his move back to Japan in 1933; in the interim he started painting in a more colorful, realistic manner. After the breakup of his third marriage, and his flight to Brazil in 1931 (with his new love, Mady), Foujita traveled and painted all over Latin America, giving hugely successful exhibitions along the way. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, 60,000 people attended his exhibition, and more than 10,000 queued up for his autograph. In 1932 he contributed a work to the Pax Mundi, a large folio book produced by the League of Nations calling for a prolonged world peace. However, by 1933 he was welcomed back as a minor celebrity to Japan where he stayed and became a noted producer of militaristic propaganda during the war. For example, in 1938 the Imperial Navy Information Office supported his visit to China as an official war artist. And he turned out propagandistic war scenes, such as the mural "Last Stand at Attu" (1943), then was given the honorary rank of major general in the Imperial Japanese Army. This made him suspect after the Allied victory and controversy over his wartime activities still lingers in his homeland. Nevertheless he found work with the American occupying forces, and was able to leave for New York City in 1949. He settled in the village of Villiers-le-Bâcle, France in the early 1950s, becoming a French citizen in 1955. Today, his works can be found in the Bridgestone Museum of Art and in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, and more than 100 in the Hirano Masakichi Museum of Fine Art in Akita.