Vlamink, Utrillo, and the Japanese Fauvists

Saeki Yuzo, Encanted by France

Sep.13 (Sat), 2008 – Mar.8 (Sun), 2009
2008 marks the eightieth anniversary of the death of Saeki Yuzo (1898-1928), one of the foremost artists in Japanese modern art history. In addition to Saeki’s work, the exhibition presents paintings by two French artists who transformed his career, Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958) and Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955), as well as those by his Japanese Yoga (Western-style painting) peers Maeta Kanji, Satomi Katsuzo, and Oguiss Takanori. Viewers are afforded a fresh look at the career and influence of this important painter.
Saeki traveled to Paris to study in January 1924, and in early summer of that year visited Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh, whose work he deeply admired, spent the last months of his life. In this small village where Van Gogh died, Saeki met Fauvist painter Vlaminck. His communion with this painter would greatly alter both his painting and his direction as an artist.
After absorbing the style of Vlaminck in Auvers, Saeki returned to Paris and became entranced by the work of Utrillo, with its pathos-filled scenes of Parisian street corners. Soon, Saeki began capturing this face of Paris in canvas after canvas, borrowing the powerful brushstrokes and compositions of Vlaminck and the scenic poetry of Utrillo. Born out of Saeki’s battle to achieve a distinct painterly vision, and inscribed with his very spirit, these paintings won him acclaim at Paris’ Salon d’Automne and rocked Western-painting circles in Japan. His work was instrumental in helping establish the Fauvist movement in his home country.
In addition to five works by Saeki Yuzo, the Pola Museum of Art has in its collection numerous works of Vlaminck and Utrillo, both of whom influenced the course of Saeki’s work. Presenting approximately forty works from the Pola Museum collection of Saeki, Vlaminck, and Utrillo, and thirteen works from other art museums in Japan, this exhibition will explore the art of Saeki and the French and Japanese painters with whom he was connected.

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