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Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita A Parisian from Japan Exceptional Works From the Collection of Kimiyo Foujita, the wife of the artist

Gilden's Arts Gallery

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Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968) was a very mysterious artist. His talent and eccentric ways epitomized the years known as “Les Années Folles” in Paris. Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1886, he was considered a Frenchman by his peers in Paris. A great admirer of Leonardo DaVinci, he not only borrowed his name, but also his love of drawing.

The Early Years Leonard Foujita became a painter at a very young age, studying at the Beaux-Arts of Tokyo. In the 19 th century Japanese artists were confronted with Western Art. Just as the Impressionists, Symbolists and other artists like Van Gogh were inspired by Japanese prints, these artists made a strong impression on artists in Tokyo. Foujita later said: “People in Japan were telling me that I would become the best Japanese painter but my dream was to be the best painter in Paris.” In 1913 Foujita left his first wife Tomiko and his dear Japan to live his Parisian dream.

Montparnasse in 1913 Once in Paris, Foujita quickly found a studio in the area of Montparnasse, the artistic epicentre of the capital at the time. Although he spoke little French, he soon struck a friendship with Pascin, Soutine and Leger and specially Modigliani, with whom he shared studio space. He even visited Pablo Picasso’s studio in 1914. During that period he experimented with various new western styles, always mixing them with his Japanese roots: “When I settled down in Paris, I was doing paintings that one might have qualified as `Japanese’ but they were Japanese in the sense that I re-interpreted the tradition of my country”. In 1917 he became a regular at the café “La Rotonde”, where the Surrealists used to meet, eat and drink. Kiki Montparnasse, Man Ray’s lover and a famous model, began posing for him, which led to many portraits and a life-long friendship. Gilden's Arts Gallery

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First exhibition and success In 1917 Foujita found a gallery to organise an exhibition of his works: la Galerie Cheron, which also represented artists like Modigliani and Soutine. The exhibition was a success. Most of his paintings sold and critics enthusiastically compared the young painter to masters like Matisse and Picasso. In 1921, Foujita started to work on a series of Odalisques and realised two of his most famous paintings: Nu allongé au chat and Nu allongé. He admired how the French embraced female sensuality as opposed to the conservative Japanese views. Thus the nude model became a crucial reference in Foujita’s oeuvre at the time. His models were often depicted with milk-white skin on very dark backgrounds, in a dream-like, timeless state. By 1924 he was one of the most important exhibitors at the Salon D’Automne in Paris.

Two Reclining Nudes by Leonard Foujita

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The late 1920’s: Self-Portraits, Cats and Young Girls The self-portrait became a means for Foujita to explore his cultural identity. He uses an occidental visual language, yet they are permeated with oriental exoticism. Foujita’s female nudes were often accompanied by a cat. He identified himself with this animal, to the point that the cat became the portrait and presence of the painter, his animal twin and soul mate. It is also in this period when he met ‘Youki’, his new 18 year old love. Her real name was Lucie Boudul, and she personified the preciousness of youth and love. Soon Foujita’s works would be filled with young, innocent, ethereal girls.

Latin America, Japan and finally France Between 1929 and 1939 the painter travelled in South America and in Japan. After breaking up with his third wife, he found his latest love, Kimiyo, in his native country. Foujita stayed in Japan from 1939 to 1949, escaping the atrocities of the Second World War. In 1949, he flew to New York where he exhibited a good number of his most famous paintings at Galerie Komor. In 1950, the artist finally returned to Paris where his dealers Pétridès, Romanet and Jeanne Jarrige-Bernard organised regular exhibitions of his works. On October 14, 1959, Foujita was baptised in the Reims Cathedral. After this he would sign all his works L. Foujita, no longer using the Kanji version of his name. Always interested in the iconographical representation of Virgin and Child, his new found Catholic fervour made this one of his principal themes in his later works. In Reims he also designed and decorated a chapel, claiming: “I built this chapel to atone for 80 years of sins”. Internationally acclaimed, he spent his last days enjoying a calm and serene life, far from the busy Paris. He died in Zurich in 1968 and was buried in what is now known as the Foujita Chapel. Gilden's Arts Gallery

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When Foujita paints a young woman, she often becomes a young girl. His models appear covered with a veil, translucent and pale. All these young girls are pure and serious. They stare at the viewer with their immense eyes.

Left: Young Girl, 1946 Right: Young Girl with Long Hair

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Works from Kimiyo Foujita Private Collection Kimiyo Foujita was the artist's last wife. She died in 2009, leaving behind a collection which included exceptional artworks from the famous Japanese/French artist of the "Annees Folles" in Paris. The majority of these works are studies for major paintings and all these drawings show Foujita’s extraordinary mastery of drawing. We are very proud to introduce these works to you.

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Title: Young Girl Posing Technique: Original Hand Signed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 24.8 x 16 cm / 9.7 x 6.2 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Mother with Veil and Her Child, 1952 Technique: Original Hand Signed, Dated and Inscribed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 27.7 x 20.3 cm / 10.9 x 7.9 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Motherhood, 1963 Technique: Original Hand Signed and Dated Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 49.5 x 27.5 cm / 19.4 x 10.8 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: The Dreamer, circa 1950's Technique: Original Hand Signed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 25 x 21.2 cm / 9.8 x 8.3 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Young Girl with her Two Little Birds, 1956 Technique: Original Hand Signed, Dated and Inscribed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 30 x 19.5 cm / 11.8 x 7.6 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Girl with Earrings and Bird, circa 1950's Technique: Original Hand Signed and Inscribed Pencil Drawing on thin vellum paper Paper Size: 27.4 x 17.4 cm / 10.7 x 6.8 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Sleeping Beauty with her Head on a Pillow, 1951 Technique: Original Hand Signed, Dated and Dedicated Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 17.4 x 23.6 cm / 6.8 x 9.2 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: The Rest, 1951 Technique: Original Hand Signed, Dated and Dedicated Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 16 x 25 cm / 6.2 x 9.8 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: The Angels Waking up a Sleeping Beauty, 1951 Technique: Original Hand Signed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 49 x 56.5 cm / 19.2 x 22.1 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Mother and Child, 1950's Technique: Original Hand Signed and Inscribed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 28.7 x 20.6 cm / 11.2 x 8.1 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Woman with Veil, 1950's Technique: Original Hand Signed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 24.3 x 20.3 cm / 9.6 x 7.8 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Young Girl with Two Pigeons, 1966 Technique: Original Pencil Drawing on thin vellum paper Paper Size: 40.2 x 24.8 cm / 15.8 x 9.7 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Young Girl with a Veil and Two Birds, 1956 Technique: Original Hand Signed and Dated Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 29 x 20.1 cm / 11.4 x 7.9 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Two Sisters with Flowers, circa 1950's Technique: Original Hand Signed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 45.5 x 37 cm / 17.9 x 14.5 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Young Girl with a Headdress, circa 1950's Technique: Original Hand Signed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 23 x 17.8 cm / 9 x 7 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Young Girl, 1956 Technique: Original Hand Signed, Dated and Monogrammed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 32.2 x 22.2 cm / 12.6 x 8.7 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Young Girl with a Yellow Cloth in her Hair, 1959 Technique: Original Hand Signed Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 35.7 x 22.2 cm / 12.6 x 8.7 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Young Girl with a Scarf, 1950 Technique: Original Hand Signed, Dated and Inscribed Pencil Drawing on thin vellum paper Paper Size: 22.6 x 14 cm / 8.8 x 5.5 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Young Girl with Long Hair, 1957 Technique: Original Hand Signed and Dated Pencil Drawing on thin vellum paper Paper Size: 23.5 x 18.6 cm / 9.2 x 7.3 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Little Girl with Two Birds, 1956 Technique: Original Hand Signed and Dated Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 32.2 x 22.2 cm / 12.6 x 8.7 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Girl Playing with her Cat's Whiskers, 1961 Technique: Original Hand Signed and Dated Pencil Drawing on tracing paper Paper Size: 39.2 x 28.5 cm / 15.4 x 11.2 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Title: Portrait of Madonna, 1960 Technique: Original Hand Signed and Dated Ink Drawing on vellum paper Paper Size: 17.5 x 14.5 cm / 6.8 x 5.7 in Provenance: Collection Kimiyo Foujita.

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Foujita catalogue 2013  
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