Chiura Obata (1885–1975) ranks among the most significant California-based artists and Japanese American cultural leaders of the last century. Obata’s seemingly effortless synthesis of different art traditions defies the usual division between “East” and “West.” Chiura Obata: American Modern presents the most comprehensive survey of his rich and varied body of work to date, from bold California landscape paintings to intimate drawings of his experiences of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
ShiPu Wang, professor of art history at the University of California, Merced, is the guest curator for the exhibition; Crawford Alexander Mann III, SAAM’s curator of prints and drawings, is coordinating its presentation in Washington, D.C. The exhibition’s presentation at SAAM is the final stop of a five-museum tour and the only venue east of the Rocky Mountains. It was previously on view in Santa Barbara, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, and Okayama, Japan.