VMPEA: Chelsea Foxwell

Angels and Demons: Toshio Aoki (1853 -1912), A Japanese Artist in California

Chelsea Foxwell

Assistant Professor, Art History Department, Chicago University

Feb 17, 4-6 pm

In the 1880s, a little-known Japanese painter named Aoki Toshio traveled from Yokohama to California, where he would spend the rest of his life practicing art -broadly defined- at the margins of painting, illustration, room decoration, and theater. His subsequent career and artistic development were molded by the harsh conditions endured by Asian immigrants in San Francisco and by the complex, contradictory, and heavily gendered images of Japan that circulated in America more broadly. At the same time, his works, which are just now coming to light, bear similarities to contemporaneous paintings made in Tokyo and later cited as landmarks of nihonga (Japanese-style painting). This talk examines several of Aoki’s images to ask what the twice-marginal can tell us about the potentials for visual communication and understanding in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


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