Museum Picks

Karin Higa’s pick: Hideo Date prints

Artist and Issei Hideo Date (b. 1907) is a master of watercolor, who fused what he learned from studying art in Japan with a freewheeling sensibility derived from his association with the bohemian art circles of pre-World War II Los Angeles and the color theories of his friend and teacher Stanton Macdonald-Wright.

When the Japanese American National Museum opened the retrospective exhibition of Date’s paintings in October 2001, people were stunned by the beauty and skill of this previously little-known artist. We were inundated with requests for reproductions, but maintaining the integrity of Hideo’s line and color and keeping it affordable seemed impossible. Then Maria Kwong, Director of Retail and Visitor Services, found a producer who could do just that.

The resulting reproductions capture the feel and beauty of Hideo’s art of the 1930s; the luscious Japanese-inspired Still Life and his untitled portrait of a woman show his debt to training in Nihonga as well as his unique and idiosyncratic vision. We also chose an untitled cat drawing from his World War II incarceration in Heart Mountain, where despite the circumstances, he continued to create works of great beauty and skill.

Although Hideo Date is now nearly 96 years old, he remains a spry, funny, and kind artist, who has generously allowed us to create these editions.

Karin Higa is Director of the Curatorial & Exhibitions Department and Senior Curator of Art at the Japanese American National Museum. She recently curated the exhibition and authored the book of the same name, Living in Color: The Art of Hideo Date.

November 2001

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