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Pase Exhibition

Léonard Foujita and His Models

Portrait of Anna de Noailles 1926
Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art
©Fondation Foujita / ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2016 E2161

September 17, 2016 - January 15, 2017
9:30 - 17:00 (last admission 16:30)
Mondays (except Sep. 19, Oct. 10, Jan. 9), Sep. 20, Oct. 11, Dec. 25 – Jan. 2, Jan. 10
DIC Corporation
Special cooperation:
Musée Maison Atelier Foujita, Conseil departemental de l’Essonne
Planning cooperation:
Curators Inc. Art & Architecture
Ambassade de France, Institut Français du Japon, Chiba Prefecture, Chiba Prefectural Board of Education, Sakura City, Sakura City Board of Education

Léonard Foujita (1886 – 1968, born Tsuguharu Fujita) may be considered the most successful Japanese artist in the history of European modern art in the 20th century, having moved from Japan to France and quickly risen to stardom in the Paris art scene in the era between the two World Wars with his unique style of painting recognized for its “milk-white” backgrounds.

Although he would apply his artistic talent to a variety of subjects and genres, surely Foujita’s most important work is found in his paintings of the human figure and portraiture. As have other artists, Foujita used professional models to study the intricacies of pose and he received requests for portraits from prominent figures in society and its wealthy bourgeoisie, but at other times it was family members or close friends that appeared in his paintings. When we look back at the “models” appearing in Foujita’s paintings along with their profiles, the circumstances leading up to the painting and the episodes involved, we find the emergence of two underlying elements, the environment of personal relationships surrounding the artist in his life and the artistic issues involved in taking the human being as a subject for painting.

In this exhibition, we present about 90 works spanning the artist’s earliest to his latest years and some 150 items of reference concerning the models that appear in them with the hope of exploring Foujita’s artistic ideas and the ways he viewed his models. Also, with special cooperation from the French department of Essonne, we are privileged to display four murals of group of figures that can be considered a culmination of Foujita’s artistic study concerning the use of models.

I: Birth of the Painter Léonard Foujita

Letter from Foujita to Tomi, Paris, 27 Feb. 1914 (Including 6 photos and a pressed flower) Private Collection

Moving to France from Japan in 1913, Foujita visited the Louvre Museum and took a drawing class in an art studio as part of his diligent training to become an artist. Foujita wrote letters about his days in this period to his first wife Tomi Tokita back in Japan. In these letters, he included pictures of himself and picture postcards from the Louvre, and he also sent copies of Paris fashion magazines for his wife, who was a teacher of dressmaking. These letters remain important materials illuminating the artist’s pursuits in the period shortly after arriving in France.

Taking up residence in a studio apartment in Montparnasse, Foujita developed friendships with Soutine, Modigliani and other Paris artists while taking his first steps toward becoming a painter. Foujita studied the primitive representational forms of ancient times and the Middle Ages and this was reflected in the portraits executed with simplified forms that he painted of friends like Modigliani and his wife Jeanne Hébuterne and his own second wife Fernande Barrey.

Fernande and her Parrot, 1917
Watercolor on paper, 36 x 22.0 cm, Private collection (France)
© Fondation Foujita / ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2016  G0590

II: Paris, a period of artistic success (1920s)

Having developed a unique personal style of painting typified by its “milk-white” backgrounds, Foujita soon drew the attention of the Paris art world and became one of its best-recognized stars with his signature “bowl-cut” hairstyle and round glasses. In the era called “les années folles” depicted in the first half of the movie Foujita (directed by Kohei Oguri) released last year, “Kiki of Montparnasse” and his third wife Youki appeared as nudes in his paintings. And, as he became a best-selling painter, request for portraits began to pour in. The Portrait of Anna de Noailles (in the Kawamura collection) was one such portrait. Then, Foujita took on the challenge of painting groups of models on large canvases. This was his attempt to create works to stand on par with the grand-scale paintings on historical subjects or ones from classical literature that were traditionally the most celebrated genre of painting in Western art. The four wall mural belonging to the Department of Essonne, including Composition with a Lion, Composition with Dogs and Battle I and Battle II are works whose whereabouts were unknown until they were discovered in a warehouse outside of Paris in 1992 and then restored through a large-scale joint French and Japanese restoration project. Today, they are collectively designated a “Monument historique” of France, a designation equivalent to the “National Treasure designation of Japan.

Composition with a Lion, 1928
Oil on canvas, 300.0x300.0cm
Musée Maison Atelier Foujita, Conseil departemental de l’Essonne
© Fondation Foujita / ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2016  G0590

III: Traveling Around the World (1930s)

The Great Depression that began in the United States brought changes to society. Foujita and Youki parted, and with his fourth wife, Madeleine Lequeux, he traveled to Central and South America, visiting Brazil, Bolivia and Mexico. There, the sights of people in native costumes in the strong sunlight against the backdrop of the local culture and arts brought a change to Foujita’s paintings, filling them now with strong and vivid colors. Not returning to France, he traveled on to Japan, and now armed with his experiences from Central and South America, he continued to paint in search of a new style as he traveled through Japan and China. But, the year 1936 brought the death of his wife and former model Madeleine, after which the world once again descended into war. These events brought a dark shadow over Foujita’s life as a painter.

Self portrait, 1936
Oil on canvas, 127.7x191.9cm
Masakichi Hirano Art Foundation
© Fondation Foujita / ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2016  G0590

Sleeping Woman, 1931
Oil on canvas, 74.4x125cm
Masakichi Hirano Art Foundation
© Fondation Foujita / ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2016  G0590

IV: Memories and Prayer [Return to France, after the 1950s]

Portrait of Jean Rostand, 1955
Oin on canvas 100.0x81.0cm
Musée Carnavaret – Histoire de Paris
© Fondation Foujita / ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2016  G0590

After World War II, criticism for having cooperated with the military by painting pictures glorifying the war effort prompted Foujita to decide to leave the country and return to France. After Madeleine’s death, Foujita had remarried, and with his new wife Kimiyo, he moved to France in 1955 and acquired French citizenship. He also converted to Catholicism and was christened under the new name of Léonard Foujita. The former darling of the Paris art world made a comeback, painting picures of the people of his age and of children and showing his work in the Salon des artistes indépendants exhibitions and at Galerie Paul Pétridès , as well as Les Peintres Témoins de leur temps exhibitions.

Exhibits of Related Materials

For this exhibition, we have kindly received lendings of valuable works from France’s Department of Essonne, the Masakichi Hirano Art Foundation and The University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts as well as the private collectors mentioned below.

[Documents from the Tokita Family Collection]

Some of the documents discovered in the storehouse of the Tokita family home in Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture, home of Foujita’s first wife, Tomi Tokita, are being displayed in this exhibition. The letters sent to Tomi from France by Foujita also contained picture postcards, photographs, press-dried flowers and the like, and things like Paris fashion magazines and opera programs he sent her also contained his handwritten comments. There are also materials of great value such as the program of the couple’s traditional Japanese engagement ceremony and family records. *A book of the letters to Tomi is to be published and will be on sale in our Museum Shop.
“Fujita Tsuguharu – Letters to His Wife Tomi” (in Japanese) compiled under the supervision of Hayashi Yoko in two volumes, Jimbunshoin publishers, 2016

Album of postcards
Private Collection

[Former Frank Sherman Collection]

Frank Sherman was a civil governor of the General Headquarters of the Allied Occupation Forces in Japan after World War II who was a personal friend of Foujita’s. A vast collection of Sherman’s holdings, including works received from Foujita and other everyday items as well as photographs and articles about other Japanese artists was bequeathed to Eisei Kawamura. This Sherman Collection was entrusted to the Department of Education of Date City in Hokkaido, where it has been preserved and managed by the NPO Funkawan Art Village. In this exhibition, 12 items from the collection, including glasses used by Foujita, are on display.
*During the exhibition, prints printed from the original copper etching plate Sherman received from Foujita will be on sale.
Inquiries to: KAP Kawamura Art Project

Foujita’s glasses and its case
Private collection / deposited to Date City Board of Education, managed by Funkawan Art Village

Lectures (in Japanese)

Saturday, October 15 13:30-15:00
Kumiko Harada (Curator, Masakichi Hirano Art Foundation)
“Tsuguharu Fujita and Akita – About the Museum for the repose of Madleine’s soul”

Saturday, November 26 13:30-15:000
Yukihiro Sato (Art historian, supervisor to this exhibition)
“Foujita and Nudes – From milk-white nudes to group compositions”

For both lectures, no reservations needed | Limited to first 50 people | Held at lecture room (open 13:00) | Free of charge Museum admission stub required

Gallery Talks by the Curator (in Japanese)

Saturday September 17, Saturday November 12, Saturday December 10

The curator Yukiko Yokoyama talks about the exhibition in the galleries.
No reservations needed | Gather at the Entrance Hall 14:00 |Limited to first 60 people|Museum admission stub required

Guided Tours (in Japanese)

Daily except on days of lectures and curator gallery talks.

No reservations needed | Gather at the Entrance Hall 14:00|Limited to first 60 people|Museum admission stub required

“Rest Time”


Ine Izumi (Artist/Painter),
Megumi Kamimura (Choreographer/Dancer),
Tatsuo Majima (Artist)

Reservations required | limited to first 15 applicants | participation fee: 3,000yen (for both sessions, includes Museum admission)

*Participants are requested to attend “Rest Time A” session without fail, “Rest Time B” participation is optional.

The body rests. The consciousness rests. The paintings rest. The words rest. The Museum rests. The world rests. Your self rests.
We invite people who want to spend free/rest time at the Museum.
All of the participants will exchange ideas/opinions, think about how to be free to rest, and all will rest.

Rest Time A [In the Museum with the lights out]

Monday, November 21 (Museum closed day) 12:00-16:00

On a Museum closed day, the lights are out in the Museum. It is a quiet interior dimly lighted with natural light from outside. Lying on the floors, you can roll around. You can walk about freely. You can talk, and sing if you want. Come join us if you would like to try resting in an environment like this.

Rest Time B [In the Museum as usual]

Saturday, December 10 13:00-15:00

It is a day when the Museum is open. The lights are on and there are museum visitors in the galleries as usual. There are also explanations of the artworks by the curators. You can lie down on the floor by the artworks. You can walk about freely. You can talk quietly if you want. Come join us if you would like to try resting in an environment like this.

|To make Workshop reservations|

Application period: Sept. 21 (Wed.) - Oct. 14(Fri.)
Reserve by e-mail at: by providing the following information:

① Name, age of all applicants
② Telephone # and e-mail address of group representative
③ Desired reservation day(s) (both A and B / A only)
④ Transportation to Museum on Workshop day (shuttle bus / car)

※ If you do not receive confirmation of your reservation from the Museum within five days, there is a possibility we have not received your request. So, please notify us by phone.

※ Notice of participants selected by lottery will be made to all applicants after Oct. 21.

Guide Profiles


Ine Izumi

Artist / Painter

The painting of Ine Izumi is inspired by spaces and potential of decoration. Main solo exhibitions include “Kukan no Koibumi (Love letter from the space)” (CAPSULE); “Toji no Mae / Toji / Toji no Ato to Wakerareta Watashi wa taimatz no kukan (ta-garden divided into before / the winter solstice / after, I am the space of taimatz )” (taimatz); “Aru Niwa-shi – Tabun no Hitotoki (A Certain Gardener - A Moment of Plentitude - )” (Aka: Kon Izumi、Hara Museum of Art). “And Zone” with dancers and art critic (Ueno Royal Museum of Art Gallery); also numerous ongoing projects with others including “Mikanbon Shimai” (2008 -), spelled out with six book-loving women as models; and “Rest Time” (2015 -), questioning the rest periods taken by artists due to illness. In August, a Bon holiday with HAGIWARA PROJECTS and Ine Izumi (planned).

Megumi Kamimura

Choreographer / Dancer

Beginning presentation of solo dance pieces in 2004, she launched Kamimura Megumi Company in 2006.
Activities have included performances at numerous venues in Japan and abroad. Kamimura was a finalist in the 2010 Toyota Choreography Award. Noted activities have included “14 Evenings” in September 2012 (National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo); “Guts pathos” in April 2014 (ST Spot); a collaboration with Michiko Tsuda “Tidings” in March 2016. As a choreographer and dancer, Kamimura’s methodology is to explore the body as material, the body as a medium for sensory perception and the body as something that points out things.

Tatsuo Majima


Born in Tokyo in 1970, Majima creates and performs works using a variety of media, such as video, performance and lecture. Principal recent works include “Untitled (Live Die Repeat)” (TARO NASU); “Léonard Foujita x Tatsuo Majima”(Tottori Prefectural Museum), among others. Recent lectures include “On Kawara Diagram (Clay)” (Toyota Municipal Museum of Art); “Foujita at 11 Rue Larrey” (Toyota Municipal Museum of Art), among others. Majima also makes daily updates on YouTube on the subject of “Dance of the Day”.

Original Goods

Originally-made items for “Léonard Foujita and His Models” exhibition are available in the Museum Shop, including postcard, original blend tea bag, candy, and wipe cloth for eyeglasses.

Two Foujita Exhibitions Mutual discount

In a special collaborative tie-up between this exhibition and the Fuchu Art Museum’s Leonard Foujita: Art Bridging the East and the West - 130th Anniversary Exhibition (Oct. 1 – Dec. 11, 2016), each museum will sell tickets at discounted prices when presenting the stub of the other’s exhibitions.

National Museum of Japanese History mutual discounts

In a special collaborative tie-up between this exhibition and the National Museum of Japanese History’s special exhibition “History of Products in Relation to the Body (Oct. 18 – Dec. 18, 2016), each museum will sell tickets at discounted prices when presenting the stub of the other’s exhibitions.

Students & seniors over 65 with ID
Elementary, middle and high school students

[Group rate over 20 persons (following price is for one person)]

Students & seniors over 65 with ID
Elementary, middle and high school students

To Group Visitors

[Persons with disability pass (+ one attendant each)]

Students & seniors over 65 with ID
Elementary, middle and high school students

Handicap Accessibility

  • *Admission also includes entrance to the permanent collection galleries.
  • *Museum Admission includes Grounds Admission.
  • - For students and seniors over 65, discounts require identification such as a Student ID, passport or driver's license.
  • - Students=college, vocational and preparatory school students
  • - Art Education Support Program is available for teachers so they can provide an interactive gallery talk with their students. (¥3500 per class / in Japanese only)
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