Shinkichi Tajiri Dutch-American, 1923-2009


Shinkichi Tajiri (b.1923 Los Angeles, USA – d. 2009 Baarlo, NL) was a child of first-generation immigrants to the USA from Japan, and grew up in the US. Following the Japanese attack in Hawaii the Tajiri family were detained in a US internment camp and lost their family home. More to escape the camp than out of Patriotism, Tajiri enlisted in the highly decorated all-Japanese American regiment of the American Army. After attending the Chicago Art Institute from 1946 to 1948 and working for the sculptor Isamu Noguchi in New York, he moved to Paris in 1949 and joined the CoBrA group showing at the 1949 CoBrA exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. In Paris he studied with Ossip Zadkine and Fernand Léger becoming a significant figure in the group of dispossessed Post-War artists, who, after the physical and moral devastation dreamed of a universal art that would transcend borders and nations.


Primarily a sculptor, the themes of Erotica, War and Violence were a way of Tajiri crystalising the horrors he had personally experienced expressed in his repeated imagery of the Knot and The Warrior, with his 1967-68 series Machines as a form of protest on the Vietnam War. Tajiri also made a number of award-winning films, videos, photographic series, works on paper and latterly, Computer Art residing in The Netherlands from 1956 onwards with his wife, Dutch artist Ferdi. One of the innovators of post-war Dutch sculpture Tajiri has work in the collections of all the major Dutch museums as well as MoMA, NY and The National Museum of Art, Japan. A major sculpture, Machine No.6, 1967, was acquired this year by Tate Modern.