arts and cultures

Foujita, works of a lifetime

From January 16 to March 16, 2019, the Maison de la culture du Japon in Paris presents "Foujita, œuvres d'une vie", a retrospective of the first Japanese artist of international renown to settle in Paris. While Foujita's Parisian period is best known to the French public, the exhibition will retrace his entire career - from his arrival in Paris in 1913 until his death in 1968, with works that are mostly unknown in France and almost all presented to the French public for the first time.
L’The exhibition "Foujita, works of a lifetime (1886-1968)" is organized within the framework of "Japonismes 2018 - Les âmes en résonance". (1), a series of events devoted to Japanese culture and presented on the occasion of the 160th anniversary of Franco-Japanese friendship.
A graduate of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, the painter Tsuguharu (Léonard) Foujita left for France in 1913 where he became a much appreciated artist of the École de Paris, just like Modigliani or Soutine. His elegant portraits of naked women with milk-white skin won over the public and made Foujita the darling of the Parisian people. Then, during the Second World War, he painted war pictures in Japan. He returned to France in 1950 and became a naturalized artist. He never returned to Japan again.
Au café, 1949, oil on canvas, 76×64 cm, Centre Pompidou, Paris - Musée national d'art moderne / Centre de création industrielle. Fondation Foujita / Adagp, Paris, 2018.

This exhibition retraces Foujita's eventful career through 36 representative works, from his first long stay in Paris until his death. Most of his sixty years of artistic creation are presented here: paintings from his heyday in the Paris of the 1920s, canvases produced during his travels in Latin America and the Far East during the 1930s and 1940s, war paintings and, finally, works created as a tribute to France in the post-war period. The paintings of the 1930s to 1940s are mostly unknown in France, and almost all of them are being presented to the French public for the first time.
Battle of the Cats, 1940, oil on canvas, 81×100 cm, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo © Fondation Foujita / Adagp, Paris, 2018

It is from a project conceived by curators from France and Japan that this real retrospective of Foujita's dreams was born in Paris. Thanks to this international collaboration, this Parisian exhibition of this "Franco-Japanese artist" opens a new page in the history of 160 years of rich cultural exchanges between Japan and France.
The exhibition "Foujita, works of a lifetime (1886-1968)" offers an overview of the fabulous career of this emblematic figure of friendship between France and Japan. A century after his first solo exhibition in Paris in 1917 and his first successes, the bringing together of some forty major works from the greatest collections of Japanese and French museums is a feat and a unique opportunity to discover his paintings of the 1930s and 1940s presented for the first time in France.
The artistic journey and stylistic renewals, which span nearly 60 years, echo Foujita's personal life and his sources of inspiration: women, travel, religion, everyday objects, scenes from life and the predominant place of childhood. In addition to the exceptional work and career of this outstanding and multi-faceted artist, Foujita's philanthropic, sometimes almost ethnographic, vision also emerges, as some experts point out.
The exhibition, which is divided into five sections, presents the essence of 60 years of creation and offers an original look at Foujita's work.
Madeleine in Mexico, 1934, oil on canvas, 91×72.5 cm, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. Fondation Foujita / Adagp, Paris, 2018.

... Foujita was an exception, he knew how to look with his own eyes and paint according to his temperament, without worrying too much about others. In Paris, he was attracted more by perspectives than by painters and tried to describe the small suburban and suburban landscape with a touching meticulousness. »
Sophie Krebs, exhibition curator and general curator of heritage at the Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris. »
Around the exhibition
Colloquium > Tuesday 15 January at 6 pm  - Free entrance on reservation (
In French and Japanese with simultaneous translation of these two languages - Duration: 2 hours
Speakers :
- Yôko Hayashi, art historian, research officer of the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan
- Sophie Krebs, General Curator of Heritage at the Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris -Shûji Takashina, Director of the Ohara Museum of Art,
- Kurashiki Masaaki Ozaki, Director of the Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki
Cinema > Friday 18 January at 7pm "Foujita" by Kohei Oguri - Single rate 5 € 2015 / 126′ / by Kohei Oguri.
With Joe Odagiri, Miki Nakatani / VOSTF. In the presence of director Kohei Oguri, the first Japanese to receive the Georges-Sadoul Prize for his film "Pour Kayako" (1984). Oguri was also awarded the Grand Jury Prize and the International Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for "L'Aiguillon de la Mort" (1990).
Conference > Thursday 14 February at 6 pm "Foujita, classical painter? " - Free entrance on reservation from January 15th ( - In French Duration: 1h30.
Michael Lucken, art historian and professor of Japanese studies at Inalco, will discuss Foujita's style during the 1930s and 1940s and will in particular raise the question of classicism and its relationship to great European painting.
Open house Maison du Japon - Cité internationale universitaire de Paris Open to the public on Saturday, February 23rd from 10am to 6pm to admire The Arrival of Westerners in Japan and Horses (1929) by Foujita. Free entrance / 12 4.
Header photo Self-portrait, 1929, oil on canvas, 61×50.2 cm, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo © Fondation Foujita / Adagp, Paris, 2018

(1) "Japonismes 2018 - Les âmes en résonance": 2018 marks the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and France and also commemorates the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Meiji era, when Japan embarked on the path of modernity and opened itself to the West by learning from it. In May 2016, President François Hollande and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to organize a major event called "Japonismes 2018", a project later taken up by President Emmanuel Macron. This event, scheduled from July 2018 to February 2019, aims to present, through exhibitions and shows in Paris but also throughout France, all the richness of Japanese culture. More than 50 major projects are being organised: from the musical tradition of Gagaku to martial arts, Japanese gastronomy, contemporary theatre, digital arts, video games and even anime. "Japonismes 2018" highlights the existing sensitivity between the French and the Japanese; this "resonance of souls" allows France and Japan to begin a new stage in facing the challenges of the international community of the 21st century.
Exposition "Foujita, œuvres d'une vie" from 16 January to 16 March 2019 at Maison de la culture du Japon in Paris - 101 bis, quai Branly - 75015 Paris

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