Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita, 1868-1968
lithograph on Arches paper; signed in pencil Foujita, ca. 1947
22 by 29 1/2 in., 56 by 75 cm
This print was issued in a limited edition of 250 prints along with a few artist's proofs.
The artist commonly known by his French name Leonard Foujita was born Fujita Tsuguharu in Tokyo, the fourth son in samurai family with significant connections to the military. Foujita knew at a young age that he wanted to be an artist, and managed to convince his father (a high-ranking military doctor) to allow him pursue his passion. He studied Western-style painting at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, graduating in 1910; three years later went to Paris. Although he knew no one when he arrived, he quickly befriended art luminaries such as Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse; he lived above Modigliani and Diego Rivera painted him (in a Greek outfit). He adopted a trademark look- heavy bangs and round glasses, and gold hoop earrings which made him easily recognizable, and he became a fixture on the Parisian art scene. Throughout his life he had a series of affairs, by the end he had been married five times. He became famous for his depictions of female nudes and cats.
His talent, unconventional manner, provocative behavior, and self-propelling confidence contributed to his extraordinary success. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Foujita enjoyed recognition for his work and financial success. He lived in France until 1934 when he returned, as a famous artist, to Japan. In the late 1930s he went on assignment for the Japanese military to China, Manchuria, Singapore and Indonesia. His controversial war-time art was very ambitious, monumental, and violent. He returned to France after the war, where he eventually obtained French citizenship.
Helen Merritt, Modern Japanese Prints: The Early Years, 1990, pp. 102-103
Sylvie & Dominique Buisson, Leonard Tsughuharu Foujita- Vie et l'oeuvre de Leonard-Stuguharu Foujita, Vol. II, 2001, no. 47.19
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