Printed Painting of Barracks by "Honda-San"

Printed Painting of Barracks by "Honda-San"

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The theme of landscape was very present in the artists' minds while they were incarcerated in the detention camps. This woodblock print is a different interpretation of the classic landscape. Obata was probably experimenting and showing his class different mediums of art by making this painting. It displays some of the more traditional Japanese techniques that were used.
A color wood-block print of camp buildings at the foot of a mountain with reflected water and birds in the foreground. There are five colors in this print; dark blue in the sky at the top of the image and in the shadows of the barrack roofs, gray in the mountain and buildings, yellow in the reflected sunlight across the center of the image, and two tones of green at the bottom. The back of the image has a note that states “Koho says, maybe HONDA-san??” Koho Yamamoto was a student of Chiura Obata during WWII while both were incarcerated in a Japanese American prison camp, the artist of this work was also likely another student.
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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
green (overall color)
blue (overall color)
yellow (overall color)
overall: 12 in x 15 3/4 in; 30.48 cm x 40.005 cm
overall: 12 in x 15 3/4 in; 30.48 cm x 40.005 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Koho Yamamoto
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Japanese American
Executive Order 9066
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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