There are many ways to talk about Fujita Tsuguharu (1886-1968). Very often it is as the wildly successful French painter of the École de Paris, friend of Modigliani and Picasso, and flamboyant international star; very often it is as a Japanese painter known for using traditional themes and styles and for his war paintings (sensōga) and close ties with the militaristic government during the war years; often it is the story of his troubled and numerous marriages, and his troubled and rocky relationship with Japan.
In this presentation I will discuss Fujita’s life and work in the context of hybrid identities: what issues come with being Japanese in Paris in these years? Fujita is easily one of the most complicated and fascinating figures of the twentieth century; he serves, in many respects, as the image of Paris in the early decades of the twentieth century. I will thus discuss the compelling issues that his intriguing life raises about fame and the meaning of international/cosmopolitan, about the representation of France within Japan, and the flows of art in the early twentieth century.
Doug Slaymaker is Professor of Japanese at the University of Kentucky. Currently he is Fulbright research fellow associated with Meiji University. He is completing a manuscript entitled Paris mon amour: Japanese Representations of France that examines the configurations of France and Japan articulated in the work (visual and literary) of Japanese artists traveling from Tokyo to Paris during the 1920s and 1930s.