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Becoming American? The Art and Identity Crisis of Yasuo Kuniyoshi$
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ShiPu Wang

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834180

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834180.001.0001

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Fighting the Battles Within

Fighting the Battles Within

(p.98) Chapter Four Fighting the Battles Within
Becoming American? The Art and Identity Crisis of Yasuo Kuniyoshi

ShiPu Wang

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter analyzes two of Kuniyoshi's large-scale oil paintings produced during the war years: Somebody Tore My Poster and Headless Horse Who Wants to Jump. Departing from war imagery that was meant to serve propagandist purposes, Kuniyoshi approached these oil paintings with a layered pictorial strategy through which he tackled issues concerning the destruction of war and U.S. foreign and domestic policies. Some could even be understood as his critical, albeit implicit and circuitous, commentary on foreign and domestic promulgation of exclusionary laws and institutional racism. These wartime paintings register a remarkable departure from his prewar works and enable Kuniyoshi to relay more nuanced viewpoints that sometimes seem to contradict or even undercut the overdetermined optimism of his public pronouncements during the war years.

Keywords:   Yasuo Kuniyoshi, oil paintings, war, U.S. foreign policy, domestic policy

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