Japanese American National Museum
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Still Life: Cat, Umbrella, Flowers

Sugimoto, Henry [ bio ]

Still Life: Cat, Umbrella, Flowers
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H: 26.5 in, W: 32 in

California, ca. 1934


Gift of Madeleine Sugimoto and Naomi Tagawa, Japanese American National Museum


Unstretched, unframed canvas.

Still life arrangement includes a gray tabby cat dozing at lower right, a woven basket filled with pink and orange gladiolas, and a small, closed blue umbrella at left. All appear against an expressive blue background on a table covered with a white cloth. A piece of yellow paper or cloth also lies on the white cloth, under the handle of the umbrella.

An interesting arrangement of objects that appears to reveal Sugimoto's interest in exploring textures. The soft rendering of the cat's fur and the crisp stalks and leaves of the flowers are carefully painted. Strong diagonals are somewhat unusual in early period works, but appearing here they add a dynamism to the traditionally staid subject of still life arrangement. As with others of the artist's still life works of this period [92.97.98, with jug, bottles, and onions, for example], the objects do not rest solidly on surfaces; their apparent weightlessness may point to the artist's interest in the objects themselves over completely naturalistic representation, as well as a post-Impressionist/Cubist sense of the motion of forms. The influence of Cezanne and his still life works seems important in this context. Vivid greens and high-contrast oranges and pinks that appear in this still life are typical of the colors Sugimoto used over the course of his career.

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