George Matsusaburo Hibi

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George Matsusaburo Hibi (June 21, 1886 – June 30, 1947) was an Asian American artist. He was most known for his oil paintings and printmaking.

Life and career[edit]

George Matsusaburo Hibi was born in Iimura, Japan on June 21, 1886. He was an influential American artist, greatly known for his oil painting and printmaking. He immigrated to the United States, specifically Seattle, Washington in 1906 and studied law for a brief period. He then moved to San Francisco in 1919 where he began submitting his drawings and cartoons to several California newspapers as well as Japanese publications. That same year, Hibi enrolled at the. California School of Fine Arts. He eventually worked as a staff member, working in multiple capacities that included: gardening, custodian, sales clerk and as a teaching assistant, offering demonstrations on batik processes, and several other technical artistic skills, he offered demonstrations on the batik process.

Hibi's art work was heavily influenced by Paul Cézanne's style of art, where he uses plains of color follow by small brush strokes to slowly form complex fields.[1]

Hibi participated in several group exhibitions in Northern California well throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. He was one of the several founders of the East West Art Society. He helped to arrange the group's exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1922, and the Amateur and Professional Artist Society in 1927.

In 1930, Hibi married Hisako Shimizu, an artist and fellow alumni from the California School of Fine Arts. They had two children and raised them in Hayward, California. In Hayward, Hibi began a Japanese-language school. During World War II, Hibi and his family was held in the Topaz internment camp in Utah.[2]

In 1937, he had a solo show in which he presented ninety works. He was included in numerous group exhibitions at this time, in venues across California such as the California State Fair, Sacramento (1938), the San Francisco Museum of Art (1939, 1940), and even at the Oakland Art Gallery (1943), while still incarcerated in a World War II concentration camp.[2]

In 1943, still living in the interment camp. Hibi painted the Untitled (Winter Interment Scene) where he showcases the brutal winter at the interment camp in Topaz. Even till this day, the painting stands up with its' uses of stunning palette of gray and violet colors with a hints of jewel-like greens.[3]

Hibi died on June 30th, 1947 of cancer.[2]


  1. ^ Chang, Gordon H.; Johnson, Mark; Karlstrom, Paul, eds. (2008). Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970. Stanford University Press. pp. 326–327. ISBN 9780804757522.
  2. ^ a b c Wakida, Patricia. "George Matsusaburo Hibi". Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  3. ^ Cornell, Daniell; Johnson, Mark Dean, eds. (2008). Asian American Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900-1970. University of California Press. p. 79. ISBN 9780520258648.