Yokoyama Taikan Weeks at TechnoChitlins


Yokoyama Taikan (横山 大観, November 2, 1868 – February 26, 1958) was the pseudonym of a major figure in pre-World War II Japanese painting. He is notable for helping create the Japanese painting technique of Nihonga. His real name was Sakai Hidemaro.

Yokoyama was born in Mito city, Ibaraki Prefecture, as the eldest son of Sakai Sutehiko, an exsamurai family in Mito clan. He was adopted into his mother’s family, from whom he took the surname “Yokoyama”. With his family, he moved to Tokyo in 1878. He studied at the Tōkyō Furitsu Daiichi Chūgakkō (Hibiya High School), and was interested in the English language and in western style oil painting. This led him to study pencil drawing with a painter, Watanabe Fumisaburo. He also studied under one of the great painters of the time, Kanō Hōgai, who was the master of the Kanō school.

In 1889, Yokoyama enrolled in the first graduating class of the Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakkō (the predecessor to the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music), which had just been opened by Okakura Kakuzō (aka Okakura Tenshin). In school, he studied under the Kanō school artist Hashimoto Gahō. Several of his classmates also later became famous artists: Hishida Shunsō, Shimomura Kanzan, and Saigō Kogetsu.

After graduation, Yokoyama spent a year teaching at “Kyōto Shiritsu Bijutsu Kōgei Gakkō” (the predecessor to the Kyoto City University of Arts) in Kyoto, studying Buddhist painting. Around that time, he started to use his “Taikan” pseudonym. He returned to Tokyo in 1896 as assistant professor at the Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakkō. He resigned that position only a year later, when his mentor, Okakura Kakuzō (aka Okakura Tenshin), was forced to resign for political reasons, and joined Okakura in establishing the Japan Fine Arts Academy (Nihon Bijutsuin).

After the death of his wife, Yokoyama traveled extensively overseas, visiting Calcutta, New York City, Boston, London, Berlin and Paris.

Yes, I like Oriental art. So sue me… Perhaps his most controversial piece was a 40-meter scroll, “Metempsychosis”. It’s much too big to put up here but for the interested, here’s a link.