June 12, 1888|
Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan
|Died||December 29, 1930
Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
|Known for||Illustration for children|
Okamoto was born in Sumoto on Awaji Island in 1888. He and his family moved to Tokyo in 1892 for his father's promotion to the vice-president of Miyako Shimbun. When in elementary school, Okamoto encountered hand fans with beautiful paintings which fascinated him and motivated him to study painting.
In 1906, he was apprenticed to Seiki Kuroda to study yōga at the age of 18. Among his fellow pupils was Ryūsei Kishida, with whom Okamoto formed an artists' group and named it Fusain Society (Fyūzankai) to promote post-impressionism. Enthralled by Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne, they held an exhibition challenging the conservative Bunten in 1912. It angered Kuroda and brought an end to their mentoring relationship, leading to the split of Fusain Society. Nevertheless, Okamoto and Kishida organized a new group together with Shōhachi Kimura and Kōtarō Takamura to give an exhibition of their own paintings in October 1913.
Career in children's media
In 1914, upon his marriage, Okamoto moved next door to Kusuyama Masao, a popular theater critic and translator of Western literature. Kusuyama helped Okamoto expand his activities to include stage design, and also asked Okamoto to draw illustrations for a series of juvenile novels Mohan Katei Bunko, of which he was the editor-in-chief, in 1915.
In 1922, Okamoto was named chief illustrator for Kodomo no Kuni from its second issue. Kodomo no Kuni was sold at a half yen per copy, relatively expensive compared to rival magazines, but was enough competitive due to its high quality of the pictures. Among the ardent readers were Chihiro Iwasaki and Seiichi Horiuchi, who would become leading illustrators for children in the mid-Shōwa period. Horiuchi admired Okamoto's ability to capture facial expressions.
Kodomo no Kuni was completely different from any other book I had ever read. A picture of beautiful evening primroses looked as if they were whiffling with scent in the dusk... I fell in love with Okamoto's pictures...
Starting to work for Shōjo Club in 1923 and for Kodomo Asahi in 1924, Okamoto became the most popular illustrator for children in Japan in the 1920s. In 1927, he participated in forming the Japan Association of Illustrators for Children with Takeo Takei, Tomoyoshi Murayama and other painters.
Building a Radio (1928). Okamoto introduced then-newest technology in some of his pictures.
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- Kondō, Yū (2011). 洋画家たちの東京 (in Japanese). Sairyūsha. p. 235.
- Takesako (2001), pp. 87–88.
- Takesako (2001), p. 89.
- Kimura, Shōhachi (1949). "私のこと". 東京の風俗 (in Japanese). Tokyo: Mainichi Newspapers.
- Ajioka, Chiaki (2000). Hanga: Japanese Creative Prints. Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales. p. 41.
- Takesako (2001), pp. 90–91.
- Kami, Shōichirō (1994). 日本の童画家たち (in Japanese). Kumon Publishing. pp. 51–54.
- 岡本帰一. コドモノクニ (in Japanese). Tokyo: International Library of Children's Literature, National Diet Library. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- "File109 レトロな絵本". 鑑賞マニュアル 美の壺 (in Japanese). Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- Kishida, Eriko; Deguchi, Yūkō; Iwaya, Kunio (2009). Corona Books, ed. 堀内誠一 旅と絵本とデザインと (in Japanese). Tokyo: Heibonsha. p. 28.
- Takesako, Yūko (2009). ちひろの昭和 (in Japanese). Kawade Shobō Shinsha. p. 133.
- Yamada, Miho (17 November 2010). ちひろとちひろが愛した画家たち (PDF). 美術館だより (in Japanese). Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo. 171: 2. ISSN 1884-7722. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- Kami, Shōichirō (1974). 聞き書・日本児童出版美術史 (in Japanese). Tokyo: Taihei Shuppansha. p. 96.
Media related to Okamoto Kiichi at Wikimedia Commons