Japanese American National Museum
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Sugimoto, Henry

1901 - 1990

Henry Sugimoto (1900-1990) was born in Gozenmatsu, Wakayama prefecture, Japan and immigrated to the United States in 1919 after he finished his studies at Wakayama Middle School. Sugimoto traveled to Hanford, California, joining his parents who had immigrated years earlier. He graduated from Hanford High School and attended the University of California at Berkeley, the California College of Arts and Crafts, the California School of Fine Art, and the Academie Colarossi in Paris, France. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California College of Arts and Crafts in 1928.

After completing his studies, Sugimoto taught art and Japanese language for a living. He also traveled to France and Mexico to develop and hone his art. His work was exhibited a the Salon d'Automne in Paris, the California Palace of Legion of Honor, and the San Francisco Museum of Art. With the outbreak of World War II, Sugimoto and his family were forcibly removed from Hanford to the Fresno Assembly Center, California and then transported to the concentration camps at Jerome and later Rohwer, Arkansas, where he taught high school art classes. After the war, the family resettled in New York City where he worked as an artist and a fabric designer.

Sugimoto has received numerous awards. His painting have been exhibited in many public and private galleries in the United States, Europe and Japan. During the 1980s, both the Smithsonian and the Wakayama Modern Art Museum acquired some of Sugimoto's paintings for their permanent collection.

Though his paintings encompass many styles and subjects, Sugimoto is best known for his depictions of the World War II concentration camps. These emotionally charged works reveal many aspects of the Japanese American experience during World War II, conjuring the fear and trauma and other facets of life within the barbed wire fences. Late in his life, Sugimoto also painted a series of canvases depicting the pre-World War II issei experience.



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