Byron Takashi Tsuzuki


Name Byron Takashi Tsuzuki
Born September 20 1900
Died September 1 1967
Birth Location Hamamatsu, Japan
Generational Identifier

Issei

Born in Hamamatsu, Japan, on September 20, 1900, Issei artist Byron Takashi Tsuzuki (1900-67) is best known for his work created in the World War II camps that incarcerated Japanese Americans. He immigrated directly to New York at the age of sixteen in 1917, where he joined the Art Students League and studied with Yasuo Kuniyoshi, while also studying art at Columbia University throughout the 1920s. Tsuzuki participated in the annual exhibitions of the Society of Independent Artists, the Salons of America, and Anderson Galleries, all of New York, along with fellow Japanese artists such as Noboru Foujioka, Eitaro Ishigaki, Torajiro Watanabe, and Yoshida Sekido. He eventually became the co-director of the Salons of America with Kuniyoshi.

In 1932, he moved to California with his wife and daughter to become a caretaker of an estate in San Mateo. After the signing of Executive Order 9066 that authorized the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast, he and his family were incarcerated at Tanforan Assembly Center and then at Topaz in Utah, where he taught at the camp art school with Chiura Obata and George Matsusaburo Hibi. In camp, he created a series of paintings that depict daily life in camp and people engaged in everyday activities such as doing laundry and playing shogi, all against the backdrop of the harsh desert prison. After the war, he returned to New York where he worked as a dental technician and continued to paint until his death at the age of sixty-six.

He died in September 1967 in New York City, New York.

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

Chang, Gordon H., Mark Dean Johnson, and Paul J. Karlstrom, editors. Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2008.

'The View from Within: Japanese American Art from the Internment Camps, 1942-1945. Los Angeles: Japanese American National Museum, UCLA Wight Art Gallery, and UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1992.