Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886–1968)

The most Japanese of the Paris School painters, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886–1968) , landed in the capital in 1913. Foujita, bowl cut and round glasses on his nose, was one of the great actors of the Roaring Twenties, adored for his exoticism and originality. A friend of Picasso and Modigliani, the artist made women and cats his subjects of predilection. Its calligraphic line recalls the Japanese tradition from which it comes. Foujita had many successes for his worldly paintings and devoted the end of his life to mystical subjects. He said “I believe that the felines were given to men so that they could learn from women with them. " His life Tsuguharu Foujita (which means "heir of peace") was born in Japan in 1886, when this country had opened up to the West since the 1850s. He came from a noble family of samurai. His dream is to join Europe, and especially Paris, the capital of the avant-garde in the early twentieth century. After graduating from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, he moved to Paris in 1913. World War I broke out. Three years pass and Foujita, who worked in London, sets down his suitcases Cité Falguière in Montparnasse. Quickly, he made friends in this colorful and shady microcosm. Influenced by Picasso, whom he admires, Foujita does not renounce his original Japonism, which he cultivates as a singularity. In the 1920s, he became one of the most fashionable painters of the School of Paris. His favorite subjects? Beautiful women and cats, which he treats with finesse, drawing inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci. Foujita is then in love with Youki (Lucie Badoud), his first wife. She will soon leave him for the poet Robert Desnos. During the 1930s, Foujita left France and traveled. First in South America, then in Japan. During World War II, he served his country as a painter and became an official artist of the regime. In the 1950s, disgusted by the violence he witnessed in Japan, Foujita returned to France and converted to Catholicism after having had a mystical vision in Reims. He died in 1968 in Zurich. He rests in Reims, where the artist had a chapel built entirely by himself. His key works Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Nude at the toile de Jouy , 1922 This large nude with classic beauty, almost monochrome, was the highlight of the Salon d'Automne in 1922. If Manet and Titian inspired the artist, he delivered a personal interpretation of the female nude. The figure, for which the famous Kiki de Montparnasse posed, is surprisingly white. The jet black hair, the hairs under the arms, and that of the pubic hair (realistic details that contrast with the nude's idealization) stand out singularly on this immaculate body. The artist freely revisits the universe of Japanese eroticism, by introducing a facetious reference to the toile de Jouy. Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Self-portrait with a cat , 1927 A classic painter's exercise, the self-portrait is a way for Foujita to stage himself with his cat, an animal he confessed a predilection. The artist represents himself, brush in hand, looking at the spectator through his round glasses, making him identifiable among all the artists of Montparnasse. The cat, Miké, does not take the eyes off the master. Foujita testifies to his relationship with the animal: a bond made of trust, intimacy, and absolute fidelity (unlike the many women he has known). Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Interior of the Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix Chapel in Reims , 1966 The name is part of Foujita and Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse, on the long list of modern artists who participated in the renewal of Catholic art in the XX th century. Foujita, an atheist, converted late to Catholicism after having lived a mystical experience in Reims. "I felt my soul open," explained the painter. In 1966, he had a Romanesque-style chapel built in this city, which he decorated. The work is both sober and exquisite. Most of the scenes are taken from the life of Christ. Seen in Beaux Arts Magazine

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886–1968)

The most Japanese of the Paris School painters, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886–1968) , landed in the capital in 1913. Foujita, bowl cut...