Artist
Masami Teraoka
Japanese-American contemporary artist

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Masami Teraoka
Japanese-American contemporary artist
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Average: 5 (2 votes)

Date of Birth

1936

More about Masami Teraoka

ebrowne's picture

Contributor

The first thing that you should know about Masami Teraoka is that he has the most beautiful silver locks in the world.

This is not an exaggeration. This is a fact. The second thing that you should know about him is that his art is as beautiful as his hair

Masami “Rapunzel” Teraoka is a Japanese-American artist who specializes in ukiyo-e inspired woodblock prints and paintings. The ukiyo-e style was hot in the 17th-19th centuries in Japan and literally translates as “pictures of the floating world” (but don’t let that distract you because the name has nothing to do with the actual process). What is so cool about Masami Teraoka’s work is that he incorporated a Pop-Art element along with this classic Japanese style. This resulted in works like McDonald’s Hamburgers Invading Japan/Self Portrait and 31 Flavor Invading Japan. Masami Teraoka seamlessly wove together American and Japanese cultures along with politics and humor . His brilliance in illustrating things like the American comfort with excessive PDA using the style of a culture that is grossed out and perhaps even offended by it, is crazy brilliant.  

On a less cheerful note, Masami Teraoka was also at the forefront of art that reacted to the AIDS epidemic. He used depictions of venomous snakes as a symbol for the virus in a phallus. Condoms are also common in these works, along with terror in the faces of people about to have sex as it was literally a life-threatening act at the time. This theme began when Masami’s friend passed AIDS to her child in childbirth, giving him the inspiration for the visual vocabulary of these horrifying and altogether unhinging works.  

And if I didn’t depress you enough with that, I can continue by telling you that another theme of Masami Teraoka’s is the issue of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. He painted triptychs that remind us all too much of Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, which by the way is basically porn. But Masami Teraoka made the clergy the sinners this time. My how the tables have turned! Masami Teraoka is the ultimate hard-hitter when it comes to portraying and commenting on social conflict and for that we are grateful (but also grossed out).

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Masami Teraoka

Masami Teraoka (born 1936) is an American contemporary artist. His work includes Ukiyo-e-influenced woodcut prints and paintings in watercolor and oil.

Education

Teraoka was born in the town of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. He studied from 1954–59 at the Kwansei Gakuin University in Kobe, Japan where he received his B.A. in Aesthetics. He moved to the United States in 1961. From 1964 to 1968 he attended and graduated from the Otis Art Institute, now the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where he received a B.F.A. and M.F.A. He received an honorary doctorate in the fine arts in 2016 from the Otis College of Art and Design.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Masami Teraoka.

Comments (1)

EllieAsksWhy

Teroaka's art works depicting the fear and lethality associated with the AIDS virus are not "unhinged". His concern was genuine and epidemiologically valid.

EDIT: Oops, sorry, you said "unhinging". Yeah, maybe sorta idk. Pro-tip: The blonde woman in lots of his paintings was a close friend perhaps girlfriend, sort of like how Dali represents his wife and Picasso includes his various mistresses/ love interests at the time. There's more detail about her in this book, circa 1989 or so, about Teroaka as an artist, "Waves and Plagues". I think the author is Howard Link.