© 2017 Tanéa Tajiri

photo homepage: © Egon Notermans

 

SHINKICHI TAJIRI ESTATE I estate@tajiri.nl I Baarlo, NL

 

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

BIOGRAPHY

 

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.

1923    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

 

1936    Moves to San Diego

 

1939    His father dies on April 18

 

1940    Takes lessons in San Diego with the sculptor Donal Hord (1902-1966) in exchange for

               weeding his cactus garden

 

1941    Attends High School Aerodynamics Technique

  

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

 

1942    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

 

1943    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

 

1944    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

 

1945    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

 

1946   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

 

1947    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

 

1948   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

 

1949   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)

 

1950   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

 

1951   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

 

1952    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

 

1953    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

 

1954    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

 

1955    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

 

1956    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

 

1957    Marries Ferdi

 

                Birth of Giotta Fuyo, June 6, first daughter

 

                Invents Molar brick technique for bronze casting

 

1958    Begins sculpture series Drippings

 

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

 

1959    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

 

1960    Begins using tubular brass elements

 

                Grant from the John Hay Whitney Foundation, New York

 

1962    Move to Castle Scheres, Baarlo (Noord-Limburg), The Netherlands

 

1963    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

 

1964    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.

 

1965    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

 

1966    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

 

1967    Makes first Polyester Knot sculptures

 

1969    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)

 

1970     Suzanne van der Capellen comes to live at Castle Scheres, Baarlo

 

1971     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

 

1972     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

 

1973     Revival of the daguerreotype photographic technique. Tajiri starts to make a large

                 series of over 1000 daguerreotypes

 

1976     Marries Suzanne van der Capellen, September 27

 

1978     Makes Homage to Magritte, installation with stereo photos in stereoscopic view

                 experiment

 

1981     Granted Honorary Citizen of Los Angeles, U.S.A. and receives the Key to the City of

                 Los Angeles by Mayor Tom Bradley

 

1986     Travels to China with sixteen students from the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin 

                 Meetings and exhibitions in art schools

 

1988     Makes drawings of knots on the Commodore Amiga-computer

 

 1989    Retires from the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin. After twenty years of teaching in

                 retirement: Students say goodbye with exhibition

 

1992     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

 

1994     Granted Honorary Citizen Bruyères en Vosges, France

 

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

                 Roberts

 

1996     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

 

2001     Establishes TASHA B.V. (Ta-néa + Sha-kuru, his two grand-children) the Shinkichi

                 Tajiri Estate

 

2002     Granted Member of the Académie Royale, Brussels, Belgium (nominated in 2000)

 

2005     Granted Honorary Citizen of Maasbree, The Netherlands (Baarlo is part of this

                 county)

 

2007    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

 

2008    Granted Dutch Citizenship, December 7

 

2009    In the early morning of Sunday March 15, Shinkichi Tajiri passed away in his studio at

                home amongst his family

 

2011    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

 

2013    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