Primavera (Haru)

Kainoshō Tadaoto 甲斐庄楠音 Japanese

Not on view

At first glance, we view this work as a portrait of a languid young woman garbed in a loosely fitting kimono and about to use a straw to drink from a Western-style glass tumbler. Yet the portrait takes on more complex undertones of gender identification once we know that the painter was the only openly gay artist of the Kyoto cultural scene of his day and often made portraits of himself cross-dressed in women’s kimonos. Tadaoto’s paintings invert and subvert the idea of the male gaze in that he was a gay man imagining himself in the guise and role of the women he depicted. Drawing on diverse influences, including eighth-century Japanese textile patterns, Botticelli’s Primavera (late 15th century), and ukiyo-e courtesan prints of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the portrait plays on, and challenges, the viewer’s expectations of feminine beauty.

Primavera (Haru), Kainoshō Tadaoto 甲斐庄楠音 (Japanese, 1894–1978), Two-panel screen; ink, color and gold on silk, Japan

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