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Takehisa YUMEJI (1884~1934)

Catalogue No: TY/Bio
  • Born in Honjo village of Okayama prefecture in the south of Honshu Island, Yumeji Takehisa reached an outstanding popularity in Japan. As a painter, illustrator and printmaker he was one of the leading exponents of the Taisho period (1912-1926). He also became famous as a writer and poet. Tokyo dedicated a museum to Yumeji Takehisa, where one can see his paintings, watercolours and art prints.
  • Yumeji Takehisa was born in a small village where his father Kikuzo worked as a sake brewer. While attending high school in Kobe, which was affiliated to the university of Waseda, he discovered his fascination for different and exotic things. At that time he started writing short stories and poems as well as creating illustrations for a magazine.
  • When his parents decided to move into the south of Kyushu Island, Yumeji Takehisa wanted to go to Tokyo. But his parents sent him to the private school of Waseda where he made a lot of friends. Shusui Kotoku (1871 - 1911), a famous socialist and anarchist, was one of them. At the age of 19 Yumeji Takehisa began to be engaged in portraiture.
  • At the age of 23 Yumeji Takehisa married Tamaki Kishi who ran an art store. But after only two years they were divorced. She was his major model and the reason why he turned to bijin-ga. Many women of whom Yumeji Takehisa fell in love posed for him and became his lovers.
  • In 1916 Yumeji Takehisa became chief illustrator of "Shin-Shojo" (fashionable girl) and of "Fujin no tomo" (women's friend) magazines. Later on he restarted making illustrations for the "Kodomo no kuni" (children land) magazine.
  • In 1923 his further career was brought to a halt by the great Kanto earthquake. Yumeji Takehisa had to restart from the beginning. He worked very hard and at last in 1931 he was able to make a journey to the U.S., Germany and Italy in order to expose his work. But it turned out a failure. In 1933 he returned to Japan because of ill health. Yumeji Takehisa died in the sanatorium of Fujimi Hiland in 1934 and was buried in Tokyo.
  • Being active in the hanga movement, Yumeji Takehisa was influenced by modern Western art, out of which a new style developed: "Taisho romanticism". Takehisa became one of its major exponents - mainly in the field of colour woodblocks. He filled the decorative element of this style with a melancholic, poetic atmosphere which formed a beautiful harmony with the charm of beautiful women. The minimalistic, sometimes naive compositions made Yumeji Takehisa one of the most popular artists in Japan of his time. After his journeys to the United States of America and to Europe the Western influence became more dominant in his style. The traditional formal language of the Japanese woodblock was more and more replaced by expressionism, abstraction and simplification.


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