Yasushi Tanaka1924

The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama

The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama

Tanaka finished Saitama Prefectural Urawa High School in 1904. He traveled alone to Seattle, where he studied painting and became an artist. His nude paintings particularly attracted attention. In 1920, he moved to Paris with his wife and was active at the Salon d’Automne and other exhibitions held periodically. He died in Paris without ever returning to Japan since he left his homeland.

This painting was done at a time when Tanaka had spent more than three years in Paris and his life there as an artist was well under way. The date of many of Tanaka’s works remain unknown, but this painting is inscribed “Yasushi Tanaka, Paris, March Taisho 13 (1924)” at the lower left. In those days, artists gathered from different countries in Paris and the city was vibrant with all kinds of arts. Together with L_onard Fujita and others, Tanaka was highly acclaimed in the Parisian art world and some say that this painting was purchased by Prince Asaka during his visit to France in those days. Compared to the realistic portrayal of the nude woman taking a dance-like pose, the Japanese motifs such as the folding screen are finished decoratively. This decorative method can also be identified in the blank spaces depicted in a design-like manner around the picture.

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