Yozo Hamaguchi Biography

Yozo Hamaguchi

Japanese

1909-2000

Biography

Yozo Hamaguchi was born in Wakayama, Japan in 1909, the son of soy sauce producer Yamasa Shoyu's tenth president. Hamagachi left the family business to enroll in the Tokyo Art School in 1927, training in sculpture. He left the school in 1930 and moved to France on the advice of artist Umehara Ryuzaburo, opting to study modern Western art and the techniques of oil painting, printmaking, and watercolor. He lived there until 1939, becoming acquainted with leading international artists and luminaries, including the writer e.e. cummings who was instrumental in introducing him to mezzotint printmaking.

With the outbreak of World War II, Hamaguchi returned once more to Japan. There he met artist Keiko Minami, whom he would later marry, and in 1951 he held his first color exhibition at the Formes Gallery in Tokyo. After 1953 he and Minami moved to Paris where Hamaguchi began working on copperplate engravings, and in 1954 he became a member of the Salon d'Automne and turned his attention to mezzotint, which would become his primary medium. He won the Grand Prize of the International Printmaking Division at the San Paolo Biennial in 1957; that same year, he was a participant in the first International Biennial Print Exhibition in Tokyo, where he won the National Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo) Prize.

Hamaguchi's compositions were usually the still life genre, simplifying the elements and suspending them against velvety grounds in a signature style that appealed strongly to western patrons. In 1961 Hamaguchi and Minami moved from Paris to San Francisco, California between 1981-96. In 1993 Hamaguchi retired from the practice of rocking and printing his own plates (leaving that to his dealer/publisher). He and Keiko returned to Tokyo in 1996 where Hamaguchi died on December 25, 2000.

Hamaguchi is credited with reviving the 17th century intaglio technique, promoting mezzotint as a viable modern art form appropriate for the expressive genres of the time. Among awards and recognition received throughout his career were:

Ninth Mainachi Newspaper Art Award, Intern't'l Exh. of Drawings and Engravings, Switzerland, 1958
Chosen as the Japanese representative at the Venice Biennale, 1960
Grand Prize, Intern't'l Biennale of Graphic Art, Yugoslavia, 1961
Prize at Krakow Intern't'l Print Biennal, Poland, 1966
Prize at 4th Intern't'l Print Biennal, Krakow, 1972
Sarajevo Fine Art Academy Prize, Intern't'l Bienna of Graphic Art, 1977
Cultural Award of Wakayama Prefecture on reloaction to U.S., 1981
Grand Prize, Northern California Regional Prize Competition, 1982
"Cherries and Blue Bowl" used for commemorative posters at Sarajevo Winter Olympics, 1984
Awarded Order of the Rising Sun ribbon, 1986
First prize, North American Art Review, 1994

Exhibitions:
Solo exhibitions in New York and San Francisco, 1983
Retrospective, Tokyo Yurakucho Art Forum and the National Museum of Art, Oskaka, 1985
Retrospective, Museu de Arte de Sao Paolo, 1988
Retrospective, Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, 1990
Retrospective, Otani Memorial Art Museum, Hyogo Prefecture, 1992
Solo exhib., Mushashino city Civic and Cultural Center, 1994
Joint exhibit with Keiko Minami, Tokyo Department Shop Kichijyoji, 1998
Solo exhibition "Hamaguchi Yozo - Monochrome Works," Sakura City Museum of Art, 1999