Imperial Japan Meets Bohemian Paris

Aaron Peck writes: ‘When the painter Tsuguharu Foujita departed from Paris in 1931, he left a farewell letter for his friend the surrealist poet Robert Desnos. Foujita wrote about his third wife, Youki, whose legal name was Lucie Badoud. She also happened to be Desnos’s lover. Foujita, who was bound for Rio de Janeiro with the dancer Madeleine Lequeux, asked his friend to care for Youki and bequeathed to her all of his paintings, those of the era featured in “Foujita: Painting in the Roaring Twenties” at the Musée Maillol. At that time, Foujita was a highly successful painter associated with the bohemian circle of Montparnasse, later called “The School of Paris.” Throughout the 1920s in Paris, Foujita cut an arresting figure: a Japanese modernist as willing to trade on his own

foreignness as he was to blend into his Parisian surroundings. “There are not a lot of artists,” author of the 1925 monograph on Foujita Michel-G. Vaucaire wrote, “who have reached a remarkable situation: of passing for a French painter in the eyes of the Japanese and for a Japanese in those of Westerners.”’

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