Ray Yoshida

Aha!, 2000

American, 1930–2009

Ray Yoshida was one of the most important American artistic figures to emerge from Chicago in the last half of the twentieth century. His impact as an original artist and teacher to generations of artists, including many of the Imagists, was profound.

Yoshida’s unique sensibilities allowed him to bridge artificial and stylistic categories and create work that was at once abstract and figurative, inspired by both fine art and popular culture. The “comic book specimen pages” that Yoshida began in the late 1960s and took up again in 1990s are a good example of this special ability.

Aha! is a “comic book specimen page” made late in Yoshida’s career. The collages from this period are more abstract. Earlier collages often favored a densely packed grid-like structure that was populated with strangely reassembled surreal figures. Aha! is constructed of carefully selected comic book fragments that are almost completely de-contextualized. Abstract, quiet, subtle in shape and color, Aha! offers very few hints to the viewer that he is actually looking at snippets from a comic book. Note that Yoshida, who endlessly refused to fit his work into neatly packaged definitions of art, playfully inserted a comic book word balloon with the word “Aha” into this extremely abstract collage.

Yoshida’s works are in the permanent collections of many museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Museum of American Art, Washington D.C., and the Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, Austria.

Gift of the Raymond K. Yoshida Living Trust and Kohler Foundation, Inc., 2011