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 Ray Kakuo Yoshida  (1930 - 2009)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/Hawaii      Known for: collage-Chicago imagism, geometric, funk cartoons

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known for abstract paintings, collage and a movement, Chicago Imagism, Ray Yoshida was also a teacher for four decades at the Art Institute of Chicago.  "Unlike the art world of New York City, where prestige in the second half of the 20th century was accorded mainly to abstraction, conceptualism and cool forms of Pop Art, the Chicago art world favored surrealism, fantasy and oddball humor."  And Yoshida was one of the leaders of this movement.

He was born in Kapaa, Hawaii to Japanese parents, and attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, near Honolulu from 1948 to 1950.  He served in the U.S. Army and in 1953, earned a fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Chicago.  In 1958, he received an M.A. degree from Syracuse University, and the following year at the Chicago Art Institute, began his teaching career, which lasted until the early 2000s.

His early signature work was a collage series composed of fragments of images he cut from comic books and then arranged methodically "as if they were produced by a methodical but possibly deranged researcher for some obscure scholarly or scientific purpose."  His first solo exhibition was in 1960 at the Middle Hall Gallery in Rockford, Illinois, and from that time exhibited his work primarily in Illinois and occasionally in New York City.  In 1998, a career retrospective of his artwork was held at the Contemporary Museum of Honolulu and then traveled to venues in Illinois and Wisconsin.

In the 1970s, Yoshida focused on painting and, influenced by folk and outsider art, created cartoon-like images of bizarre appearing stylized figures placed in landscapes or interior settings.  In the 1990s, he diverted his creative energies from collage making back to painting.  Both his collages and paintings reflected his words that his creativity was a "visual gathering place of my fragmented self."

Ray Yoshida died of cancer on January 10, 2009 at the age of 78 in Kauai, Hawaa.

Ken Johnson, "Ray Yoshida, 78, Collagist and Painter", The New York Times, 1/21/2009, B9

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