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Strong Woman and Child

1925 Yasuo Kuniyoshi Born: Okayama, Japan 1889 Died: New York, New York 1953 oil on canvas 57 1/4 x 44 7/8 in. (145.4 x 114.0 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation 1986.6.50 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, North Wing


Exhibition Label

Kuniyoshi’s paintings often encoded his experience as a Japanese immigrant in the United States, where, in the 1920s, anti-Asian discrimination was pervasive and restrictive immigration laws prevented him from becoming a citizen. (His wife, Katherine Schmidt, was disowned by her wealthy family when they married.) He painted Strong Woman and Child while in Paris, where the liberal environment and friendships with other artists, among them Alexander Calder, provided a sense of freedom and emotional support. The strong woman of the title is a circus performer who stands on a stage, French flags entwined at the backdrop. The mother figure, who may be a stand-in for Katherine, affirms her protective relationship with the child, who seems perhaps a symbolic portrayal of the artist himself.


Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection, 2014

Keywords

Figure group - female and child

Object - other - flag

Performing arts - circus - strong man

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

fabric - linen - support added