Obata: Sumi Painting; WATER/OCEAN Waves crashing

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Artist: Chiura Obata   (1885-1975)
Title: "WATER/OCEAN" (Titled by artist)
Date: Ca. 1930s (JULY 6, dated by artist)

Obata has captured a moment in time, specifically the moment when water meets earth as ocean waves flow over shoreline rocks, with two cormorants perched atop the rocks at right. The location might be the California coast, and presumably Point Lobos, which was a favored subject of the artist. It could be that Obata took his students on a field trip to the ocean, and could be that this is an in-class demonstration, and Obata is purely demonstrating brush technique and how to capture the various types of natural forces. Sumi (ink) Painting on Japanese paper. 

Obata taught at Berkeley between 1932 and 1954, and made many study paintings as demonstration to his students. Some of these studies include the class name and date of the work, but many are undated, as with this example.

Obata’s economy of line and mastery of the brush are practically unequalled in 20th c. American art. He influenced a generation of California artists, and at his own count taught more than 10,000 students. The University of California, Berkeley preserved all of his paintings and sketches while Obata and his family were interned in Utah during WWII.

Obata’s training in sumi painting began in Japan at the age of seven. He wrote that there were three disciplines essential to the practice of sumi-e, beginning with “Before the student touches a brush to paper, his mind must be as tranquil as the surface of a calm, undisturbed lake.” (See Chiura Obata: An American Modern, page 71.) Obata's prints, paintings and sketches have been acquired by numerous museums for decades, and a number of his works are now in the collection of the  Whitney Museum of American Art, including a painting sold to the Museum by this dealer.

Condition: Very good condition overall, with some wrinkles  at top and bottom and original pinholes.

Dimensions: 39.2 x 52.7 cm  
Provenance:  Estate of Chiura Obata. Includes a certificate of authenticity from the estate of the artist.