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Yasuo Kuniyoshi papers, 1906-2016, bulk 1920-1990

Biographical Note

Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889-1953) was a Japanese-American painter, printmaker and photographer based in New York, N.Y.
Kuniyoshi was born in Okayama, Japan. In 1906 he came to the United States and a year later began studying at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design. In 1910 he moved to New York and took courses at the National Academy of Design, the Independent School of Art, and the Art Students League, where he studied with Kenneth Hayes Miller. He was married to fellow artist Katherine Schmidt from 1919 to 1932. After traveling throughout Europe, they moved to the Woodstock, New York, in 1927 and took part in the Woodstock Art Colony. Kuniyoshi studied and later taught at the Art Students League summer school there.
By 1930 Kuniyoshi had established himself as an internationally known painter and graphic artist. In 1935, he received a Guggenheim fellowship and married Sara Mazo. In New York City he taught at the Art Students League, the New School for Social Research, and served as the first president of the Artists Equity Association from 1947 to 1950. Kuniyoshi was active in social organizations, especially Japanese American organizations, such as the Japanese American Committee for Democracy. Although Kuniyoshi was barred from becoming a citizen due to American immgration laws at the time, he viewed himself as American and took an active role in the war effort during World War II, even working with the U.S. Office of War Information department to design posters.
The Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective for Kuniyoshi in 1948, making him the first living artist to be honored in such a fashion at the museum. Yasuo Kuniyoshi died of cancer in 1953 and was survived by his second wife Sara Mazo Kuniyoshi who preserved the legacy of his work.