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Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Lay Figure, c.1937-1938

Yasuo Kuniyoshi exhibited “Reclining Figure” in this exhibition. The details of this work are unknown at this time, as we have yet to be able to confirm the catalog. Still, Yasuo Kuniyoshi produced another work around the same time, entitled “Lay Figure,” which is very similar to “Reclining Figure.” As has already been pointed out by some review, the magazine between the figure and the chair bears the year “1906,” the same year Kuniyoshi moved to the United States. 

In addition to the furthermore, newspapers are placed casually on the pale figure, posed in an unstable pose on the chair, which appears to be oppressed by the media that convey information, such as newspapers and magazines. The Figure would collapse from its chair with even the slightest shock.

In the United States, from 1937 to 1938, when this work was produced, Japanese artists of the time, including Yasuo Kuniyoshi, were being recognized in the American art world for their achievements, although they did not have citizenship. However, Japanese people without citizenship must have been in a very precarious position in the U.S., where the Second World War was looming large, along with the Sino-Japanese War and accusations of fascism. The figure in this painting can be read as a projection of the place of the Japanese in America in the late 1930s, and “Reclining Figure,” which was shown at an exhibition in New York City in 1938, may have been a work with such a message.