Yozo Hamaguchi (Japanese 1909-2000)
Hamaguchi Yozo is a twentieth-century printmaker of the mezzotint process. Born in Wakayama prefecture, Hamaguchi set out to become a sculptor, entering Tokyo Art School in 1927. Three years later, he left for France where he studied painting, sculpture and drawing at the Acadèmie Grande Chaumière in Paris. There, he became friends with other artists and writers, including the American poet e.e. cummings (1894-1962), who presented Hamaguchi with a set of mezzotint tools. The technique had historically been used for making realistic reproductions of paintings, but fell into disuse once photography became available. Hamaguchi became intrigued and began experimenting with still-life studies.
When war broke out in Europe in 1939, he returned to Japan, where he met and later married Minami Keiko. In 1953, when it was again possible to travel, they went to France together. Hamaguchi was soon winning awards for his monochrome mezzotints and embarked on the development of a polychrome process that used subtle colors.
In 1981, Muldoon Elder, owner of The Vorpal Gallery in San Francisco, encouraged Hamaguchi to move to the United States and had a special etching press designed to his specifications.
Hamaguchi remained with The Vorpal Gallery until 1996, when he repatriated to Japan. Today a comprehensive collection of his work is housed in Tokyos Musée Hamaguchi Yozo, a private museum in a space formerly used to warehouse Yamasa soy sauce. Hamaguchis father had been the tenth-generation of that company.