J. Kenneth Fine Art & Estate Collection
Lynne Mapp Drexler
John Kenneth Alexander
J. K E N N E T H F I N E A R T
Lynne Mapp Drexler
Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA
Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Lowe Art Museum, Miami, FL
Michelson Museum of Art, Marshall, TX
Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI
Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
Provincetown Town Art Collection, Provincetown, MA
Provincetown Art Association Museum, Provincetown, MA
Syracuse University Art Museum, Syracuse, NY
Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS
Yale University Art Museum, New Haven, CT
Taro Yamamoto is an artist best known as an abstract expressionist painter. He was born in Los Angeles, California in 1919. Yamamoto was sent to Japan at the age of eight to receive a traditional Japanese education. His family was said to be descended from a long line of Shinto priests. During his education, he began painting and by the time he reached high school he realized that art would remain the central core of his life. Even though Yamamoto’s father was a successful farmer in Japan and California, but he broke away from whatever expectations there might have been.
Yamamoto returned to the United States in 1936 and began studies at Los Angeles City College. In 1941 he joined the U.S. Army and served during WWII in Europe. After the war he returned to California where he studied at the Santa Monica City College.
In 1949 Glenn Wessel, a student of Hans Hofmann, convinced Yamamoto to move to New York. He enrolled in the Art Students League in 1950. There, he worked with Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Vaclav Vytlacil, Byron Brown, Reginald Marsh and Morris Kantor.
Yamamoto was also awarded a scholarship to study at the Hans Hofmann school in New York and Provincetown. In 1952 he was awarded a John Sloan Fellowship from the Art Students League. The next year he traveled to Europe under a MacDowell Traveling Fellowship where he studied in Germany. He exhibited at Gallerie Huit in Paris. Also, while in Paris, he met his future wife, Gwynneth. In 1954 Yamamoto was invited to a residency at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. There he worked with Stuart Davis, Milton Avery, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.
Yamamoto traveled extensively beyond New York and Provincetown. His travels included Paris, Florida, Hong Kong, and a return trip to Japan—Yamamoto was constantly on the move, exhibiting his work, creating art, befriending artists, seeking out patrons and collectors, and trading art for housing when he had to. All the while, his own avant-garde painterly style was evolving.
In 1954, Yamamoto arrived in Provincetown to study at Hans Hofmann’s studio. “The painting area was on the street level where the garage was, filled with still-life materials set up by Hofmann” recalls fellow painter Robert Henry. “There was a smallish area outside of the garage and at the foot of the stairs leading up to the second-floor drawing studio, and I remember Taro painting there. He set up his canvas, a rather large canvas for the space, and proceeded to paint. He started by flinging paint at the canvas with a palette knife, using it as a kind of sling shot, and quickly worked himself into a frenzy while furiously opening tube after tube of paint and scattering tubes and tube caps all over the place. While he was engaged in this activity, his somewhat pregnant wife [Gwen, whom he met in Paris four years earlier] was sitting there patiently watching, and when Taro was finished, she gathered up the scattered tubes and meticulously replaced the caps, while Taro sat recovering while studying the painting.”
Yamamoto continued to develop his own unique abstract expressionist style. He would often incorporate sand within his paintings. In fact, he would ask friends to pick up his preferred type of sand from the Provincetown dunes. In the late 1950s and early ’60s, the Yamamoto had a gallery near Pepe’s Wharf in Provincetown. The painter was a recognizable figure on Commercial Street, stopping to chat, often while tending to flowers in someone’s garden. Gardens and flowers were frequent subjects of his art. He would also paint on the wharf, enjoying the company of tourists.
Yamamoto had an extensive exhibition career including the Stable Gallery, Art Students League, Krasner Gallery, Westerly Gallery, Riverside Museum in New York, Provincetown Art Association & Museum, Guild Hall in Easthampton, Miami Museum of Modern Art, Dayton Art Institute, University of Minnesota, Wellfleet Art Studio, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, along with many others.
Yamamoto died in 1994 leaving behind his wife and son.