14th Street (Primary Title)
in the progressive art world of New York between the two world wars. Born in Nagano, Japan, he was raised on a silkworm farm before moving to London in 1917. Usui settled in New York in1921, establishing a trade in designing furniture and frames for a wide range of clients. Through his frame work, he became interested in art and began painting.
The glowing palette, matte finish, and expressive line of 14th Street are representative of Usui’s most admired work. The picture’s subject and style suggest a precisionist approach—a term first applied in the 1920s to a diverse group of artists who favored precisely delineated form, composition, and subject matter to express the new industrial aesthetic of modernism. The precisionists took as their primary subject the simple geometric forms of machines and urban life—particularly skyscrapers.
JapanAmerica: Points of Contact, 1876 – 1970, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, August 27 – December 18, 2016; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA, February 12 – May 21, 2017
Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties, Brooklyn Museum of Art, October 28, 2011 - January 29, 2012; Dallas Museum of Art, February 24 - May 27, 2012; Cleveland Museum of Art, July 1 - September 16, 2012
Harris, Neil, Nancy E. Green, et. al. JapanAmerica: Points of Contact, 1876-1970. Exh. Cat. Ithaca, New York: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, 2016. cat no. 149, p. 258, color illus.
O’Leary, Elizabeth L., Sylvia Yount, Susan Jensen Rawles, and David Park Curry. American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the University of Virginia Press, 2010. (No. 127, p. 374-379).
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