Matsumi Kanemitsu was born to Japanese parents in Ogden, Utah on May 28, 1922. At age three, he was taken to Japan and grew up in a suburb of Hiroshima. He returned to the United States in 1940 and enlisting in the United States Army in 1941. He was arrested after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and interned. While interned, he began drawing with supplies provided by the American Red Cross. After his release, Kanemitsu enlisted in the Army and served as a hospital assistant in Europe. In 1946, he was discharged from the Army and began his formal art education with Fernand Léger in Paris and with Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students League of New York. He was on the faculty of Chouinard Art Institute from 1965 to 1970 and the Otis College of Art and Design from 1971 to 1983. Matsumi Kanemitsu died of lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles on May 11, 1992.
Matsumi Kanemitsu is considered a second-generation abstract expressionist. He is best known for his non-objective paintings, which are often hard-edge, such as Landscape, from 1967, in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art. The Baltimore Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art are among the public collections holding work by Matsumi Kanemitsu
- Brown, Michael D., Views from Asian California 1920–1965, An Illustrated History, San Francisco, Michael D. Brown, 1992
- Yamaki Art Gallery, Matsumi Kanemitsu Lithographs 1961–1990, Osaka, Yamaki Art Gallery, 1990
- Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, Matsumi Kanemitsu, Works in Black and White, 1958–1988, Los Angeles, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 1988
- Nordland, Gerald, Matsumi Kanemitsu (1922-1992) A Retrospective, Beverly Hills Louis Newman Galleries, 1993
- Uyemura, Nancy, "Portrait of an Artist", Tozai Times, issue 51, December 1988