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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Monolithic Impasse

Photo: Paul Macapia

Monolithic Impasse


Paul Horiuchi

American, born Japan 1906 - 1999

Chikamasa Horiuchi—who called himself Paul after his hero, Paul Cézanne—was born in Oishi, Japan, studying calligraphy and painting there as a youth before immigrating to Seattle as a teenager. In Seattle, he was taken in temporarily by his cousin Shigetoshi Horiuchi, a dealer and collector of Japanese antiquities, before traveling to Wyoming to join his family and rise through the ranks of the Union Pacific Railroad. His career was cut short with World War II and the abrupt suspension of opportunities for Japanese Americans.

Horiuchi began making torn-paper collages in 1954 after seeing the peeled layers of advertisements on the walls of buildings in Seattle’s International District. This, his most ambitious collage to date, debuted at the Nordness Gallery in New York in 1964, launching Horiuchi to national acclaim and foretelling his success as one of Seattle’s leading artists.

Casein on mulberry paper mounted to canvas
77 9/16 x 78 9/16 in. (197 x 199.5 cm)
Gift of the Seattle Art Museum Guild
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryTacoma, Washington, Tacoma Art Museum, Paul Horiuchi, 1967.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Northwest Traditions, June 29 - Dec. 10, 1978.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Light, Shadow, and Gesture: Paintings by Northwest Artists, Aug. 14, 1997 - Aug. 2, 1998.

Tacoma, Washington, Tacoma Art Museum, Paul Horiuchi: Master Of The Collage, Nov. 11, 1987 - Jan. 17, 1988.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Views and Visions In The Pacific Northwest, June 6 - Sept. 2, 1990.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Paul Horiuchi, Mar. 9 - June 11, 2000.

La Conner, Washington, Museum of Northwest Art, Paul Horiuchi: East and West, Mar. 15 - June 15, 2008.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Northwest Modernism: Four Japanese Americans, Mar. 20, 2021 - June 5, 2022 [on view Mar. 20, 2021 - Mar. 13, 2022].
Published ReferencesClark, Sarah, Charles Cowles and Martha Kingsbury. Northwest Traditions, ex. cat. Seattle, Washington: Seattle Art Museum, 1978. p. 105

Johns, Barbara. "Modern Art from the Pacific Northwest in the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1990, no. 16, p. 20

Nakane, Kazuko. "The Light from Within: Following the Art of Paul Horiuchi." LaConner, WA: Museum of Northwest Art co-sponsored by the International Examiner, 2000, illus. back cover

Johns, Barbara, "Paul Horiuchi East and West", Universtiy of Washington Press, 2008, pp.60

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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