Smithsonian American Art Museum Shows Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s All-Seeing Eye

THE DAILY PIC: In 1948, this was how the world looked to a Japanese American


Here is a painting called Festivities Ended, part of “Yasuo Kuniyoshi: An Artist’s Journey” a major retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The Japanese-American artist painted it a couple of years after World War II, when he was one of the leading lights of American art.

I don’t deny that today’s Daily Pic is a very strange painting, but of course that’s what I like about it.

I especially wonder if the billboard in the background echoes a real eyeballing ad that existed at the time – which would be a lovely proto-Pop detail – or if it is Kuniyoshi’s invention, meant to capture the overwhelming sense of being watched that he would have felt as an enemy alien, held suspect during wartime despite his fierce American patriotism. (Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan. © Estate of Yasuo Kuniyoshi/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)

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