Matsumi Kanemitsu



(1922 - 1992)

Born to Japanese parents in Ogden, Utah in 1922. Kanemitsu was raised in a suburb of Hiroshima, Japan, until he was eighteen. He came alone to the United States in 1940 to pursue a higher education and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941, giving up his dual citizenship. However, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor he was arrested and sent to a series of army detention camps. In the post-war years Kanemitsu moved to the East Coast, first studying sculpture with Karl Metzler in Baltimore before moving to New York. In New York, he attended the Art Students League under the instruction of teachers such as Harry Sternberg and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. Kuniyoshi, and later Ad Reinhardt, were influential mentors. In 12961 he earned a Ford Foundation grant to work at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles and readily translated the techniques of simi painting into lithography. He taught at the Chouinard Art School from 1965 to 1970 and at the Otis Art Institute from 1971 to 1983, both in Los Angeles.

Kanemitsu was proficient in four separate mediums: sumi (Japanese ink drawing), watercolor, lithography, and painting on canvas. He painted with acrylics and used a complex technique that involved brushing, staining, pouring, and glazing to achieve abstract imagery that often reflected landscapes and the forces of nature. He worked all of his life with Japanese sumi ink and brushes, maintaining that the dramatic effects of color painting could also be achieved in black and white and the gradations between them. Y.H.




1950           Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, D.C.
1954           Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Conn.
1956           Recent Drawings ,USA, Museum of Modern Art, New York
1957           New School for Social Research, New York
1962           14 Americans, Museum of Modern Art, New York
1971           Black and White Drawing and Watercolors, San Fransisco
                              Museum of Modern Art
1972           Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA
1986           Japanese Artists Who Studied in U.S.A., 1875-1960,
                              Hiroshima Museum of Modern Art
1988           Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, Los Angeles
1990           Yamaki Art Gallery, Osaka.


Baltimore Museum of Art
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Hiroshima Museum of Modern Art
Hiroshima Museum of Modern Art
Honolulu Academy of Arts
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Philadelphia Museum of Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


Brown, Michael D. Views from Asian California 1920-1965, An Illustrated History
(San Francisco: Michael D. Brown, 1992)
Matsumi Kanemitsu Lithographs 1961-1990 (Osaka: Yamaki Art Gallery, 1990)
Matsumi Kanemitsu, Works in Black and White, 1958-1988)
(Los Angeles: Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 1988)
Nordland, Gerald. Matsumi Kanemitsu (1922-1992) A Retrospective
(Beverly Hills Louis Newman Galleries, 1993)
Uyemura, Nancy. ‘Portrait of an Artist,’ Tozai Times 5, issue 51
(December 1988): 1, 10