Artistic Impressions: Tsuguharu Foujita

Born in the late 1800s, Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita was one of the most notable Japanese artists of the early 1900s. Known for blending Western style with traditional Japanese techniques, Foujita was made famous through his countless paintings, many of which were relatively simple, but showed several aspects of the world around him.

Throughout his life, he travelled all over the world, leaving his native city of Tokyo, Japan to journey throughout Europe and America and eventually wind up living in Paris, France. From his portraits to his works showing the streets of Paris, or even those of him with his cats (which he seemed to love very much), he found an effective way to embody the atmosphere of the first half of the 20th century. Although he passed away in 1968, his work left a great impact on the European art world, which carried over into the world of fashion. In 2009, Jil Sander premiered their Spring/Summer 2010 Menswear collection, which featured a number of pieces and bags embellished with Foujita prints. In accordance with the artist’s habit of preparing his canvases with a unique blend of white paint followed by the careful application of color, the Jil Sander creative team led by Raf Simons built the collection around a rather pale color palette and added pastels on top of the white color base. Some critics considered the collection to be a display of minimalism taken too seriously, suggesting that it was under-designed and lacking substance. However, I disagree. Sometimes less is more and this collection attests to that. Check out some of the pieces for yourself.

To see why this Franco-Japanese painter was considered one of the leaders of the School of Paris (the tribe of foreign artists working in Paris during his time), check out more of Foujita’s work below.

*click on any of the rows to get a closer look

I became a man in Japan, and I became a painter in France.

-Tsuguharu Foujita