Toward the Sky, 1965
(1926-1995). In 1953, Toshi traveled to the United States,
Mexico, London and the near East. He made presentations in thirty
museums and galleries in eighteen states. From 1954 to 1973, Toshi made
three hundred nonobjective prints.
In Toshi's own words “...it was an easy – I suppose inevitable – step to abstraction, but it was a step my father could never approve. Still I could not ignore the movement of the times and I began to break away from my former realistic approach two or three years after the war.”1
1 Modern Japanese Prints, Oliver Statler, Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1956, p.169
http://www.stolaf.edu/people/kucera/YoshidaWebsite/evolution/essay_pages/pa_kou_vang.htm and as footnoted.
As John Koening, from the movie Space: 1999, once said, “It is better to live as your own man than as a fool in someone else's dream.” This statement is the issue that Toshi Yoshida had to face as a developing artist under the influence of his father, Hiroshi. The Yoshida family used a prominent and traditional style for their artwork. For many years, Toshi silently protested for freedom to choose what he wanted in his own art. Whether it was the theme of his artwork or his personal style, he had to go through his father first. Hiroshi was a demanding father wanting to shape Toshi’s art into a second-generation version of his own, but Toshi secretly opposed this pressure by avoiding the romanticism that exemplified his father’s work, and choosing subjects different from his father’s landscapes.
The Yoshida family is almost a one-family art movement. The first artist in the Yoshida family line was Kosaburo Yoshida; he went to a western art school, and his incredible work demonstrates the Italian influence in Japanese art. Kosaburo only had daughters, and among them was Fujio, who was also a talented artist. Nevertheless, Kosaburo adopted as a son whom later became his son in law, the promising young man who became the famous artist Hiroshi Yoshida. Hiroshi worked primarily as a painter until his late forties when he became fascinated with woodblock printing. Fujio and Hiroshi had two sons, Toshi and Hodaka, who carried on the family’s artistic line.
Toshi was born on July 25, 1911 just two months before his older sister Chisato, a three year old girl passed away. For the next fifteen years Toshi lived a lonely life, for he was the only child, until his brother Hodaka was born. According to Hiroshi’s plan, Toshi would become the artist, while Hodaka was meant for a career in science. Sadly, when Toshi was a child he contacted polio meningitis from his nanny’s family, which paralyzed one of his legs. This tragic incident played a big role in Toshi’s life as an artist because as a young boy he was not allowed to play outside with other children. Thus, Toshi spent his free time making art and inventing animal stories. According to Kendall H. Brown, “Toshi also routinely sketched with his parents, who taught him the rudiments of life drawing”1. Toshi was taught at an early age the beauty of art.
was the individual that Hiroshi would most deeply imprint with his
sense of natural beauty and light. Kendall H. Brown mentioned that
Hiroshi was Toshi’s teacher and ‘most ardent critic, sought to mold
Toshi and his art into a second-generation version of himself and his
own highly successful naturalism’. This explains why most of
Toshi’s artwork is similar to his father’s because Hiroshi wanted Toshi
to fellow his technique. Still, it was hard for Toshi to please his
father while trying to find and maintain his own identity. Toshi once
stated that he chose to put his interest in animals because his
father’s interest was in landscape; this was a way to differentiate his
work from his father’s. Kendall H. Brown stated that, “viewers who are
familiar with Hiroshi’s naturalistic landscapes often see Toshi as an
artist who never fully emerged from his father’s shadow”. Perhaps
it is that Toshi often painted and made prints of many of the same
subjects that Hiroshi used.
It was not until Hiroshi’s death in 1950 that Toshi could really break away from his father’s demands. In order for Toshi to break away from his father’s naturalism and his past, he resigned from his father’s Pacific Painting Society to join with his brother Hodaka's group called Plus. Toshi moved into abstract art because his brother Hodaka, who had also become an artist, influenced him. Abstract art was a new and different style to Toshi. Therefore, he found himself within abstraction.
Toshi Yoshida was strained to become the second-generation version of
Hiroshi, his father, he eventually broke away by secretly avoiding
romanticism and purposefully contradicting his father’s artistic
values. Toshi opposed his father through his artwork with his
independent values of what was important to show his audience. The
result was a unique type of art where Toshi’s true character came out.
1 All Kendall H. Brown references from A Japanese Legacy: Four Generations of Yoshida Family Artists, Laura W. Allen, Kendall H. Brown, Eugene M. Skibbe, et. al., The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2002, p. 72-73.
Sydney Museum, Australia; New York Museum of Modern Art; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Cincinnati Art Museum; Art Institute of Chicago; Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art; MOA Museum, Atami, Japan; British Museum, London; Portland Art Museum; Paris National Library, National Museum of Australia, Canberra; Seattle Museum of Art; Krakow National Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and others
Although the Yoshida's have not yet found their way to ShinHanga.net, I had a recent discussion about Toshi's pencil and block signatures with Eugene Skibbe, the author of the book Toshi Yoshida - Nature, Art and Peace. He provided me with an interesting statement from Takashi Yoshida, number 2 son of Toshi. "The fact is, that already during the lifetime of Toshi some prints got the printed signature instead of the pencil signature."
Due to hospitalization and the weakness of his hand, Toshi Yoshida (1911-1995) chose to use a hand printed signature with embossed seal during this period. However, he kept supervising all of the printing at his studio. So, you may find the following signatures for his prints:
1. Original Limited number with his pencil signature.
2. Original Limited number with printed signature with embossed seal.
3. Posthumous Limited number with printed signature without embossed seal.
4. Original Unlimited number with his pencil signature.
5. Original Unlimited number with printed signature with embossed seal.
6. Posthumous Unlimited number with printed signature without embossed seal.
Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989, Lawrence Smith, British Museum Press, 1994, p. 39
Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn, Oliver Statler, Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1956. p. 168-169.