A black and white sumi-e painting of a flower. The image depicts a large, fully opened flower, two unopened buds, and leaves. The open bloom has many petals and exposed stamen, resembling a chrysanthemum or carnation. The underlying pencil sketch for this painting is visible. This is most likely a student work from Chiura Obata’s art class in a Japanese American prison camp during World War II.

Born Zoroku Obata in Okayama-ken, Japan in 1885, Obata moved to California in 1903 and was one of the earliest Japanese artists to live and work in the United States. Obata was the first artist of Japanese descent to be a faculty member at UC Berkeley, where he started teaching in 1932. In 1942 he and his family were removed from Berkeley and imprisoned at the Tanforan temporary detention center and Topaz Japanese American incarceration camp under Executive Order 9066. At Tanforan, Obata started an art school with George Matsusaburo Hibi which he continued upon transfer to Topaz, teaching hundreds of students and creating a large body of artwork depicting everyday life in the camps and surrounding landscapes. Obata became a naturalized citizen in 1954, a year after retiring as Professor Emeritus from UC Berkeley. He spent the rest of his life traveling widely, lecturing and demonstrating Japanese brush painting. Obata is most well-known for his signature style of painting which blends Japanese and Western techniques and his large-scale landscapes. He also created an award-winning series of color woodblock prints at the Takamizawa Print Works in Japan inspired by his 1927 trip to Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada. Chiura Obata died on October 6, 1975 at age 89.

Date Made: circa 1940s

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Military and Society: Armed Forces History, Japanese American


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: gift of Koho Yamamoto

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2016.0152.38Accession Number: 2016.0152Catalog Number: 2016.0152.38

Object Name: painting

Physical Description: paper (overall material)paint (overall material)Measurements: overall: 18 1/4 in x 12 in; 46.355 cm x 30.48 cm


Record Id: nmah_1814484

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