Portrait of Kawabata Yasunari, 1974
Gift of Ted and Marcia Marks in memory of Emily Howe Marks
Sekino grew up near his mentor Shikō Munakata, and later studied under Kōshirō Onchi (Sekino printed Onchi’s portrait of Hagiwara Sakutaro). Beyond woodblock printing, Sekino was also highly accomplished in etching and lithography, and taught at the Pratt Institute in New York and at the Tamarind Lithographic Workshop in Los Angeles. Sekino’s technical competency as a printmaker is reflected in this nuanced portrait of the Japanese novelist and short story author Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972). Kawabata, the first Japanese recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1968), was admired for his spare, lyrical prose and committed to translating Japanese literature into other languages for Western audiences. Sekino realistically captures the face of his spirited subject in a broad color range, printed from a large number of blocks. Kawabata’s face emerges from a pitch-black background which perhaps alludes to the author’s death by suicide in 1972.