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Studio on the rue d'Odessa, Paris 1952. Photo: © Guy Bourdin.



Shinkichi Tajiri was born in Los Angeles on 7 December 1923, as a son of Japanese parents. He was a sculptor, first and foremost, but he was also involved with photography and made a number of award-winning films, videos, stereo and panoramic photos. His life and artworks include Asian, American and European elements.

After the war he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1947-1948 and then left for Paris, where he first studied with the sculptor Zadkine and later with the painter Léger. Tajiri was one of the first artists who created junk sculptures. With this, he earned the admiration of the Dutch CoBrA artists who resided in Paris. They invited him to take part in the first and second International Exhibition of Experimental Art (CoBrA), respectively in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam 1949 and Museé des Beaux Arts, Liège 1951.
In 1956, Tajiri took up residence in Amsterdam and in 1962 he moved, together with his wife Ferdi and their two daughters, to Kasteel Scheres in Baarlo near Venlo.

In the Netherlands, Tajiri was admired for his artistic diversity.
He represented the Netherlands at the Documenta II (1959), Documenta III (1964), Documenta IV (1968) and the 31st Venice Biennale (1962).

In 1969 Tajiri was appointed professor at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin on request by its art students, where he taught until 1989.

During this period he started to experiment with an array of different media including his own off-set printing press (X-Press), nearly forgotten photography methods, such as the Daguerreotypes and his computer drawings on the Commodore Amiga.

After Tajiri passed away the renewed Rijksmuseum (2013), Amsterdam acquired the sculpture Made in USA as well as Ferdi’s Wombtomb, which are on permanent display in the 20th-century collection of the museum.









































































































































































































































Born December 7, in Watts, Los Angeles, U.S.A., of Japanese parents: Ryukichi Tajiri  1877-1939) and Fuyo Kikuta (1896-1972), who in 1906, resp. 1913 emigrated to the

U.S. They had seven children, of which Shinkichi George is the fifth


Moves to San Diego


His father dies on April 18


Takes lessons in San Diego with the sculptor Donal Hord (1902-1966) in exchange for weeding his cactus garden


Attends High School Aerodynamics Technique


Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7 (on his 18th birthday)


Imprisoned with circa 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans


February 19, president F. D. Roosevelt signs executive Order 9066, by which circa  

120,000 Japanese-Americans, Issei and Nisei are evacuated and imprisoned without

 individual charges or trials in concentration camps


In May internment in the stables of the Assembly Centre Santa Anita Race track.


In September internment in the Poston 3, Relocation Camp in Arizona, Colorado  

River Indian Reservation


Volunteers for 442nd Regimental Combat Team, U.S. Army. Basic training at     

Camp Shelby, Mississippi. A special combat unit entirely independent, comprised

(except for officers) of Japanese American volunteers


In May the 442nd Regimental Combat Team is shipped to Naples, Italy. Liberation of  Rome


July 9: wounded at Castellina, North of Rome. Hospitalized for 6 months in the 6th General Hospital in Rome. Reclassified as Limited Service and serves in France in the

Army postal service and billeting section


Through stops in Marseille, Nancy (France) he went to Seckenheim


Special Service as artist, Seckenheim, Germany. Made drawings of Displaced Persons from Eastern Europe at Mannheim, Germany


On leave in Paris, France


January 9: after being demobilized, settles in Chicago, U.S.A., with mother, brothers and sister

Works as an antiques restorer in Japanese antique shop


Granted purple Heart Medal: one of the most recognized and respected medals  awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces


Works on Father and Son


Works in studio of Isamu Noguchi, New York (August-September)


Studies for a year at the Art Institute of Chicago with G.I. Bill Stipend


Departs from the United States. September 28: arrival in Le Havre, France

Move to Paris, September. Follows from October 1948 to November 1949 lessons with

Ossip Zadkine (Académie Colarossi). Lives in Clamart, Paris


First contact with Simon Vinkenoog, who works as a model at the private academy of Zadkine. Through this contact he meets the CoBrA-artists


CoBrA is founded on November 8


Starts working on a series of sculptures Warriors, and Samurai, a reoccurring theme throughout his oeuvre


Studies with Fernand Léger from September until September 1950


Makes One-day sculptures along the banks of the Seine, photographed by Sabine Weiss (published in LIFE magazine 1952)


Co-founder of Gallery 8 (Huit) for American artists in Paris


Group show of G.I. students, Galerie St. Placide. In the review G.I. students show the

Left Bank is mentioned that Pablo Picasso visited the exhibition and particularly liked

the sculptures of Tajiri


He received praise from major critics such as Charles Estienne; and well-known French, Italian, German  and English art magazines published articles about Tajiri’s work in which his work is presented next to works by Calder, Gabo, Duchamp, Giacometti, Chillida, Gonzales, Arp and other leading sculptors


American Artists shown at Gallery 8 (Huit): Robert L. Rosenwald, Carmen d’Avino, Sydney Geist, Burt Hasen, Al Held, Raymond Hendler, Oscar Chelimsky, George Ortman, Harold Tovish


Studies at Académie de la Grande Chaumière from September 1950 - September 1951


Studio at Rue d’Odessa (Montparnasse), Paris


Starts the Junk sculpture series


Henri Matisse as chairman of the selection committee of the Salon des Jeunes Sculpteurs in Paris chose Tajiri with three other sculptors for this exhibition. Le Corbusier is the designer of the exhibition


Stipend G.I. Bill stops


Guest professor at Werkkunstschule, Wuppertal, Germany. December 1951 -  November 1952


Works as wallpaper designer at Rasch Tapeten-fabrik, Bramsche, Germany


Marries Denise Martin on May 25. She was the nurse at the hospital where he was treated for hepatitis


Studio at the L’impasse Ronsin at 150-152 Rue Vaugirard, Paris, together with Constantin Brancusi, Max Ernst, Oskar Chelimsky, Jean Tinguely, Eva Aeppli, Niki de Saint Phalle


Granted First prize for best German Wallpaper, international Wallpaper exhibition, Darmstadt, Germany


Meets Ferdi Jansen. Starts living together in a studio behind restaurant Wadja, in the courtyard at Académie Colarossi and later in Sucy-en-Brie, a suburb of Paris


Divorces Denise Martin on May 13


Moves with Ferdi to rue Vercingétorix, Paris; they travel together on a 650cc Triumph  Motercycle through Spain, North Africa, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria, and Italy


Designs the cover of the novel Molloy by Samuel Beckett


Makes the film The Vipers which was awarded the Lion d’Or (Golden Lion) for the Best

Use of the Language of Film at the 8th international Festival for Amateur Films, Cannes, France


Designs the cover of the novel Quiet Days in Clichy by Henry Miller with photographs of Brassai


Moves to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with Ferdi Jansen and they live at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 151


Marries Ferdi


Birth of Giotta Fuyo, June 6, first daughter


Invents Molar brick technique for bronze casting


Begins sculpture series Drippings


Family moves to a house and studio on the Valkenburgerstraat 150-152, Amsterdam


Founded the avant-garde group A’dam, together with Wessel Couzijn, Hans Verhulst, Ben Guntenaar and Carel Kneulman. This group was short-lived


Sculpture grant from William and Noma Copley Foundation, in the jury Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Hans Arp (William and Noma Copley Foundation later known as the Cassandra Collection)


Birth of Ryu Vinci, April 25, second daughter


Begins using tubular brass elements


Grant from the John Hay Whitney Foundation, New York


Move to Castle Scheres, Baarlo (Noord-Limburg), The Netherlands


Granted the Mainichi Shibum Prize for sculpture awarded at the Tokyo Biennale, Tokyo, Japan


Gold Medal at the Biennial of San Marino, Italy - Stay of six weeks in Japan Travels around the world


Karl Kleimann from Dortmund (Germany) and Isamu Kanamori from Tokyo become assistants in his workshop at Castle Scheres. Karl Kleimann remains his assistant for the rest of Tajiri’s life


Work is shown in group exhibition at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam with Max Bill,

Alexander Calder, César, Lynn Chadwick, Wessel Couzijn, Naum Gabo, Emile Gilioli,

Henry Heerup, Jean Ipoustéguy, Robert Jacobsen, Henri Laurens, Birgitte Meier-

Denninghoff, Jaap Mooy, Louise Nevelson and Germaine Richier


Visiting professor at Minneapolis School of Art, U.S.A. Resides with his family and

assistants in Minneapolis for one year, on invitation of the director Arnold Herstand   

whom he knew from his time in Paris.


Makes Column for Meditation, a monumental sculpture for the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A


Travels for five months through U.S.A. and Mexico with family and assistants


Starts Machine sculptures. Tajiri’s series of Machines ended in 1968 with the No. 8


Participates in the local carnival parades with his friends and family. Taped on 1/2 inch Sony CV American System: video tape no. 1-2-3 Carnival in Baarlo


Makes first Polyester Knot sculptures


Nelson Rockefeller acquires Granny’s Knot; shown at the MoMa, New York


Death of Ferdi Jansen, February 2


Visiting professor Hochschule der Künste (HdK, University of the Arts), West-Berlin, Germany. On intercession of the students (permanent appointment: professorship in 1973-1989)


Suzanne van der Capellen comes to live at Castle Scheres, Baarlo


Grand Prix for the film Bodil Joensen, A Summer Day at the first Wet Dream Film Festival, Amsterdam


With his Sony Porta-Pak he records a series of interviews with artists and events


Visiting professor at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, U.S.A. (second time)


Creates video workshop and Electronic Bulletin Board which was put up in the hall of the institute


Death of mother Fuyo Kikuta-Tajiri


Revival of the daguerreotype photographic technique. Tajiri starts to make a large series of over 1000 daguerreotypes


Marries Suzanne van der Capellen, September 27


Makes Homage to Magritte, installation with stereo photos in stereoscopic view experiment


Granted Honorary Citizen of Los Angeles, U.S.A. and receives the Key to the City of Los Angeles by Mayor Tom Bradley


Travels to China with sixteen students from the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin 

Meetings and exhibitions in art schools


Makes drawings of knots on the Commodore Amiga-computer


Retires from the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin. After twenty years of teaching in retirement: Students say goodbye with exhibition


Granted Officer in the Order of the Orange-Nassau, May 29, chivalric order open to everyone who has earned special merits for society


Birth of first grandchild Tanéa Ferdi Teruo, September 29, daughter of Giotta and Alan Teruo Roberts


Granted Honorary Citizen Bruyères en Vosges, France


Birth of second grandchild Shakuru Shin, December 13, son of Giotta and Alan Teruo Roberts


Sentinel, commission for the Dutch Ministry of Defense to commemorate the end of the draft, Nassauplein, The Hague. This was the start of a series of Ronin based on the legendary story of the 47 Ronin


Establishes TASHA B.V. (Ta-néa + Sha-kuru, his two grand-children) the Shinkichi Tajiri Estate


Granted Member of the Académie Royale, Brussels, Belgium (nominated in 2000)


Granted Honorary Citizen of Maasbree, The Netherlands (Baarlo is part of this county)


May 2, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands unveiled the four Sentinels on the bridge over the Maas river in Venlo, The Netherlands


Granted Knight in the Order of The Netherlands Lion, Dutch order of chivalry


Granted Dutch Citizenship, December 7


In the early morning of Sunday March 15, Shinkichi Tajiri passed away in his studio at home amongst his family


Receives posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal for his distinguished service during World War II as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. It is the highest civilian award in the United States


The sculptures Made in U.S.A. from Tajiri and Wombtomb from Ferdi were aquired and are on permanent display in the 20th Century collection of the Rijksmuseum

Opening on April 15 of the renovated Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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