Glory in a Line: A Life of Foujita—the Artist Caught Between East & West

Phyllis Birnbaum, Author . Faber & Faber $26 (331p) ISBN 978-0-571-21179-1

Birnbaum (Modern Girls, Shining Stars, the Skies of Tokyo ) tackles the perplexing story of Fujita Tsuguharu, known as Foujita, the eccentric and controversial Japanese painter who achieved success in the West during the early decades of the 20th century. Born in 1886, Foujita studied art in Japan, but at the age of 27 moved to Paris, where he gained fame for his paintings—especially exotic cats and female nudes rendered in exquisite black lines against white backgrounds—combining Eastern and Western artistic traditions. He was equally well known for his wild behavior and flamboyant dress. But in 1940, inexplicably, he moved back to Japan and produced art works promoting its military ambitions, for which he was reviled after the war by his countrymen. Claiming he was being persecuted by the Japanese, he returned to the West in 1949 and managed to salvage his reputation before he died in France in 1968. Basing her biography on letters, archival material and interviews with people who knew Foujita, Birnbaum presents an engrossing account of his life but is unable to shed much light on his reversals of allegiance. The result is an incomplete picture of this inscrutable artist. 24 pages of b&w illus. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 08/07/2006
Release date: 11/01/2006
Paperback - 331 pages - 978-0-86547-975-3
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-374-70696-8
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!