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Oral history interview with George Tsutakawa [videorecording], 1987 June 26-27

Tsutakawa, George, 1910-1997

Art teacher, Painter, Sculptor


Collection Information

Size: 12 Items, Master: 12 videocassettes (Beta) (circa 20 min. each), sd., col., 1/2 in.; 4 Videocassettes (U-matic), Duplicate (3 sets, 12 total videocassettes), sd., col., 3/4 in.

Format: Originally recorded on 12 videocassettes. Duration is 4 hr.

Summary: An interview of George Tsutakawa conducted 1987 June 26-27, by his daughter Mayumi Tsutakawa, for the Archives of American Art at Tsutakawa's home and studio in Seattle, Washington and at three of his fountain sculpture sites.
He discusses his youth and early education in Japan, demonstrates Sumi painting, and describes early Seattle art communities and University of Washington classes. He recalls his WWII experiences and his friendship with Mark Tobey and others, and explains the origins and evolution of fountain sculpture. Paul J. Karlstrom of the Archives of American Art introduces and concludes the interview.

Biographical/Historical Note

George Tsutakawa (1910-1997) was a Japanese American painter and sculptor based in Seattle, Washington. Born in Seattle in 1910, he moved with his mother to Fukuyama, Japan, at the age of seven. While there, he took an interest in art, and was influenced by traditional Japanese practices. Returning to Seattle at age 16, he continued his education in art at the University of Washington. His interest in sculpture led to numerous commissions for fountians worldwide, a form that combined his experiences in both the Pacific Northwest and Japan. During his career, Tsutakawa designed, built, and installed over 70 fountains.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Language Note

English .


Funding for this interview was provided by Warner Communications.

Related Materials

This interview was followed up in 1988 by documenting Tsutakawa's return to Fukuyama, Japan to dedicate a major work for the city's new museum of contemporary art (cataloged separately under George Tsutakawa in Japan video project). Footage from this interview was used, along with footage from the 1988 Fukuyama footage, in the documentary "George Tsutakawa: An Artists' Pilgrimage" c1990 by the Archives of American Art.

How to Use This Collection

For information on how to access this interview contact Reference Services.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with George Tsutakawa [videorecording], 1987 June 26-27. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.