Léonard Tsugouharu Foujita was a painter and printmaker born in Tokyo, Japan who applied Japanese ink techniques to Western style paintings.
Immediately after graduating secondary school, Foujita wished to study in France, but on the advice of Mori Ogai (his father’s senpai military physician) he decided to study western art in Japan first. In 1910 when he was twenty-four years old Foujita graduated from what is now the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. His paintings during the period before he moved to France were often signed "Fujita" rather than the gallicized "Foujita" he adopted later.
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… 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… Another portrait of Kiki titled "Reclining Nude with Toile de Jouy …. was the sensation of Paris at the Salon d’Automne in 1922, selling for more than 8,000 francs…. Within a few years, particularly after his 1918 exposition, he achieved great fame as a painter of beautiful women and cats in a very original technique. He is one of the few Montparnasse artists who made a great deal of money in his early years. By 1925, Tsuguharu Foujita had received the Belgian Order of Leopold and the French government awarded him the Legion of Honor.
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.
On his return to France, Foujita converted to Catholicism. He was baptised in Reims cathedral on 14 October 1959, with René Lalou (the head of the Mumm champagne house) as his godfather and Françoise Taittinger as his godmother. This is reflected in his last major work,at the age of 80, the design, building and decoration of the Foujita chapel in the gardens of the Mumm champagne house in Reims, France, which he completed in 1966, not long before his death.
Posted by >RasMarley on 2014-08-12 13:51:58