Fujita, Tsuguharu (藤田嗣治) (1886–1968) By Szostak, John
Fujita Tsuguharu was a Japanese oil painter who spent most of his career in France. He is known in the West for female nudes and portraits painted in the 1920s with a distinctive pearl-white pigment, executed in a style that melds French modernism with the linear aesthetics of traditional Japanese prints. These paintings, which frequently featured cats, won him both critical and popular acclaim, earned him membership in the Salon d’Automne, and made him a mainstay of the Montparnasse artist community. He is the sole Japanese painter associated with the École de Paris. Fujita returned to Japan in 1933, where he exerted substantial influence on contemporary painting as a member of the Second Section Society (Nikakai). During the Pacific War, Fujita created many large-scale works for the Japanese military as an official war artist, activities that continue to affect his reputation in Japan today. Difficulties adjusting to the post-war cultural landscape of Japan led Fujita to return to France in 1950, where he revitalized his career. He became a French citizen in 1955, and was awarded the Legion of Honour in 1957.