Skip to main content

Kenjilo Nanao papers, circa 1885-2017, bulk 1970-2000

Nanao, Kenjilo, 1929-2013

Painter, Printmaker, Educator

Collection Information

Size: 11.3 Linear feet; 0.706 Gigabytes

Summary: The Kenjilo Nanao papers measure 11.3 linear feet and date from circa 1885-1887 and circa 1949-2017, with the bulk of the papers dating from 1970 to 2000. Biographical material includes forms of international identification, travel documents, early academic writing on art, and interviews in the form of written typescripts and digital audio recordings. Correspondence is mostly personal between friends and family, in addition to a few folders of professional correspondence spanning Nanao's career. Correspondence drafts also appear as entries in bound journals. The Journals series includes bound journals of mixed content such as thoughts on art, to-do lists, and artwork in various media including watercolors and charcoal. Professional files include various professional portfolios that Nanao produced for the purpose of tenure review, a binder detailing relationships with various galleries, and various teaching materials and studio documents. Printed materials include exhibition catalogs, invitations, and clippings. Photographs are primarily of family and friends, with some images of artwork and exhibitions. Artwork includes sketchbooks, as well as some loose drawings and watercolors.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter and printmaker Kenjilo Nanao (1929-2013), was born in Aomori, Japan, and graduated with a degree in economics in 1953 from Nihon University before immigrating to the United States to study art in the San Francisco Bay Area. He received a bachelor's degree from the California School of Fine Arts in 1963 as well as a masters of fine arts from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1971, where he studied under Nathan Oliveira and met his wife and fellow artist, Gail Chadell Nanao.


The Kenjilo Nanao papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2016 and 2018 by Gail Nanao, Kenjilo Nanao's widow.

Language Note

Collection is in English and Japanese.