Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1880–1953)

Boy with Cow, 1921

Oil on canvas, 16 1/8 × 20 in. (41 × 50.8 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund. Image © Estate of Yasuo Kuniyoshi/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York., 2017.1

The Japanese-American artist Yasuo Kuniyoshi was an acclaimed modernist painter, printmaker, and photographer. Inspired by the landscape and vernacular architecture of Maine, where Kuniyoshi summered at the Ogunquit artists’ colony, Boy with Cow is one of several images he painted of the subject during the 1920s. It depicts a young boy about to lead a cow to shelter in the face of an impending storm. Although cows were rare in his native country, the artist attributed his fascination with them to having been born in a “cow year,” according to the Japanese lunar calendar. With its simplified geometric forms, stylized rendering of anatomy, and high horizon, the painting fuses Kuniyoshi’s interest in European modernism, American folk art, and Japanese prints. Exemplary of his first major period, Boy with Cow was included in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1948 Kuniyoshi retrospective, the institution’s first-ever retrospective given to a living artist.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.