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The Masters Series: Shigeo Fukuda
September 10 - October 27
Masters Series: Shigeo Fukuda September 10 through October 27, 2001
Opening Reception: September 10, 5 - 7 pm
Japanese graphic designer and visual humorist Shigeo Fukuda is the 15th recipient of the Masters Series Award given by the School of Visual Arts (SVA). Shigeo Fukuda holds an esteemed position in the world of international graphic design and is known the world over for his whimsical visual creations. In addition to graphic design, Fukuda has also worked in the fields of sculpture, theater set design, and painting murals. No matter the medium, much of his work reveals humor as well as a simplicity that is, he admits, purely Japanese and executed with a great deal of thought and concentration. "I don’t know if there is such a thing as a deep laugh and a shallow one, but if there is, I’m after the deep laugh."
In Mr. Fukuda’s posters, for example, a viewer may see such images as a welded pile of forks and spoons, its shadow revealing a motorcycle; or a framed mirror hung at an angle which gives the illusion of Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflower. The quality that often distinguishes his work is the puzzlement and intellectual engagement that continues for the viewer after he or she walks away from one of his pieces.
Fukuda’s fame grew rapidly after the international success of a 1965 exhibition in Tokyo entitled "Toys and Things Japanese," which included 120 playthings created from natural materials.
One of the pieces in the exhibition, "Birdtree," was a wooden toy that could be assembled into either a bird or a tree. Such twists on simple objects are a constant theme in Mr. Fukuda’s work.
After graduating from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1956, Mr. Fukuda quickly developed and mastered a distinct style; he has stuck with it ever since. He admits that he originally wanted to be a cartoonist. At an early age, while still in high school, he won first prize for a cartoon strip he created called Atomic Gen. However, when he realized the art school did not have a cartoon (manga) department, he brought the full range of his humor and talent into the world of design.
Fukuda has received numerous awards for his work and has exhibited his work throughout the world. He has also won the top prize in numerous international poster competitions in such countries as Japan (1967), Poland (1972), Moscow (1985), Helsinki (1992), and Paris (1992). He is currently the president of the Japan Graphic Designers Association (JAGDA), whose role is to "enhance the quality of design, to foster greater awareness of design, and to probe the directions of design for tomorrow."