2015: Li Bai admiring a waterfall
2015: Li Bai admiring a waterfall. Yokoyama Taikan (1868-1958)
Ink and mineral pigments on silk, to 1902
119 cm x 48 cm (with mounting 215 cm x 64 cm)
Yokoyama Taikan, is the pseudonym of Sakai Hidemaro. He is born in 1868 Mito (Ibaraki prefecture) and belongs to the generation of painters of modern Japan. Indeed, this date corresponds to the first year of the Meiji era. It marks the modernization of Japan and its entry into the international powers.
Yokoyama Taikan is the eldest son of Sakai Sutehiko, a samurai family of the Mito clan, but he is adopted by his mother's family from whom he receives the name of Yokoyama. In 1878, he followed his family to Tokyo where he became a student of the college Tôkyô Furitsu Daiichi Chûgakko. It was there that he began to take an interest in Western oil painting and the English language. He learned drawing with the painter Watanabe Fumisaburô, but it is with the great painter Kanô Hôgai (1828-1888), last teacher of the Kanô official school that he trains himself in traditional painting. This artist, sponsored by the American Ernest Fenollosa (1853-1908) and helped financially by the rich American William Sturgis Bigelow (1850-1926), then experimented with new pictorial processes (pigments and compositions) that will radically transform the Japanese painting and give it a specific style specific to the modern era.
In 1889, Yokoyama Taikan is part of the first class of artists from the Tôkyô School of Fine Arts (Tôkyô bijutsu gakkô), created in 1887 by the Ministry of Education under the supervision of Okakura Kakuzō ( Okakura Tenshin 1862-1913). In this school, ancestor of the current National University of Fine Arts and Music Tokyo, artists learn how to renew traditional painting by incorporating elements of Western painting. They thus lay the foundations of what will be called the Nihonga (word for word "Japanese painting") as opposed to the term Yôga ("Western painting", especially oil painting), following a terminology invented by E.Fenollosa at a conference he gives in Japan.
At the School of Fine Arts, Yokoyama follows the teachings of Hashimoto Gahô (1835-1908), follower of the Kanô school, as Kanô Hôgai. After graduation, he went to Kyoto to teach for one year at the Kyoto University of Applied Arts and Art (Kyōto Shiritsu Bijutsu Kōgei Gakkō) and began using the pseudonym Taikan. He returned to Tokyo in 1896 to become an assistant professor at the Tôkyô School of Fine Arts, but after a year he gave up his post when Okakura Kakuzô was removed from office for political reasons.
He then participated alongside Okakura in the creation of the Academy of Fine Arts of Japan (Nihon bijutsu-in) with his former school friends, Hishida Shunsô (1874-1911) and Shimomura Kanzan (1873-1930 ). This academy was founded in reaction to the official dictates imposed by the Ministry of Culture in its exhibitions (Bunten). When Okakura died in 1913, the group disbanded. It was reconstituted a year later in 1914 under the direction of Yokoyama Taikan, who moved it to Yanaka, Tokyo. This institution and the biennials (Inten) it organizes are still in operation today.
In 1903, he travels to Europe via India and spends the year 1904 in different European countries. Then in 1909, he goes to China. As Serge Elisseeff points out (Contemporary Japanese Painting, Paris, 1923), "his various travels have given him a multitude of elements for his works".
Considered by Serge Elisseeff (1889-1975), a specialist in Japanese art, as one of the "great painters of Tokyo", he is one of the artists selected to exhibit at the important exhibition of contemporary Japanese art that is held at the Grand Palais, Paris, from May to July 1922. Yokoyama exposes Wood in autumn "Where the painter uses colors to give a combination of a stylized green of coniferous trees alternating with the different red colors of the autumn foliage of other trees" (Serge Elisseeff: Contemporary Japanese Painting, Paris, 1923).
Yokoyama has enjoyed a long and successful career. He received the Medal of the Order of Merit and was promoted to member of the Academy of Arts of the Imperial Household as well as of the Academy of Fine Arts.