Hideo Date

Name Hideo Date
Born January 5 1907
Died January 6 2005
Birth Location Osaka, Japan
Generational Identifier


Hideo Date (1907-2005) was a New York-based artist who taught art classes at Heart Mountain . Born in Osaka, Japan, on January 5, 1907, he was the third son of Imasuke and Yusa Date. Shortly after Date's birth, his father left to find work in California and opened a hardware store in Fresno, California. Date immigrated to California in 1923, joining his mother and brothers who were already working to support the family. He labored in the Central Valley orchards until his father's hardware store closed, which precipitated moving the family to Los Angeles.

After graduating from Polytechnic High School, Date enrolled at the Otis Art Institute on scholarship in 1928 where he became friends with fellow art students Benji Okubo and Tyrus Wong. After one year at Otis, Date left to pursue the study of traditional brush painting and nihonga at the Kawabata Gakko in Tokyo, Japan. Date returned to Los Angeles in 1930, where he joined the Art Students League and immersed himself in the burgeoning Los Angeles art scene. Influenced by artist and teacher Stanton MacDonald-Wright, Date was also a part of the Independents, a group of L.A.-based artists who rejected the tenets of modernism. By the mid 1930s, Date was an established artist, having participated in the annual exhibitions of Japanese Artists of Los Angeles, the Exhibition of Young Painters at the College Art Association, and the Foundation of Western Art. He was also commissioned to paint a mural in an Oriental-themed room in Pickfair, the home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. [1] In 1937, Macdonald-Wright took over the southern California Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project and commissioned Date to paint a mural for a school in Terminal Island , thus allowing him to be paid for his work. The home of many Japanese American fishing families, Terminal Island was the first community to see its Japanese American community forcibly removed in 1942; as a result, Date's unfinished mural disappeared forever. [2]

Throughout the World War II years, Date was incarcerated at Santa Anita , then transferred to the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming, where he formed the Art Students League school with Benji Okubo, teaching art privately to other Japanese American inmates. The school held several exhibitions and created a mural at camp. At one point the Art Students League Heart Mountain had as many as 250 members and its instructors included Date, Okubo, Robert Kuwahara , Shingo Nishiura, and Riyo Sato . Curiously, while Date was detained at Heart Mountain, he became obsessed with drawing and painting portraits of cats, and all but ignoring his surroundings as potential subject matter for his artwork. In 1945, Date was released to work on a mural in Buffalo, New York, and later moved to New York City. Unlike many Nisei artists whose work was lost or destroyed in the years of incarceration, many of Date's earlier paintings survived in the care of friends in Los Angeles. In 1947, Date returned to California to retrieve his work and held a one-person show at the Art Center School before returning to New York, where he continued to involve himself with other artists associations and painted increasingly abstracted works in oils. He married Yuriko Tamaki, and with the passage of the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act of 1952 , was finally able to gain naturalized citizenship in 1955 which allowed him to fulfill a lifelong dream of traveling to Europe. Date died at home in Queens, New York in 2005, the day after his ninety-eighth birthday.

In 2001–02, the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles held a major retrospective of his work curated by Karin Higa, and published an accompanying book. Both the exhibition and book were entitled Living in Color: The Art of Hideo Date.

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: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Cheng, Scarlet. "A Painter Ready to Claim his Place". Los Angeles Times , October 28, 2001.

Higa, Karin. Living in Color: The Art of Hideo Date . Berkeley: Heyday Books: 2001.

Hideo Date Collection at the Japanese American National Museum. http://www.janm.org/collections/hideo-date-collection/ .


  1. Gordon H. Chang, Mark Dean Johnson, and Paul J. Karlstrom, editors, Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 (Stanford University Press, 2008), 310.
  2. Alisha Patrick, Alisha, "Synchromist; Graphic Artist," accessed on January 23, 2014.

Last updated Dec. 19, 2023, 5:36 p.m..