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Chuzo Tamotsu Papers

Identifier: MSS -609-BC

Scope and Content

The collection focuses on Tamotsu's business affairs. These files include correspondence, notes, news clippings, and catalogues from galleries, museums, and friends. The collection begins with folders specifically focusing on Tamotsu's life, art, and studio/gallery. Following these are alphabetically arranged business files documenting exhibitions, sales, loans of Tamotsu's art work. Publications and excerpts from publications containing articles about Tamotsu and his work, as well as colleagues and their work are filed within the related folders. Publications at the end of box 1 are of more general interest and do not specifically relate to Chuzo Tamotsu.

Box 2 contains Tamotsu's card file inventory of his works. Box 3 houses oversized artwork, ephemera, and articles. The examples in this box illustrate some of the influences that may be seen in his work.

Materials in this collection are predominantly in English, however, there is some material written in Japanese.


  • 1924-1995

Language of Materials

English Japanese

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

Chuzo Tamotsu was born February 19,1891 in the village of Toguchi on the Japanese island, Amami Oshima. He was raised by his father, a master cabinet maker, and his older brother and sisters. After graduating from Amami Oshima Middle School, he began studying oriental and occidental art under private tutors. He also mastered dancing, music, and playing the shakuhachi, a Japanese flute. From Toguchi he moved to Tokyo where he studied political economics at Senshu College for two years. In 1914, Tamotsu left Japan to study oriental and European art, traveling through countries including Korea, China, Borneo, India, France, Holland, Belgium, and England, visiting various museums, studying the works of the great masters, and earning his way by selling his artwork. From Europe he sailed to the United States. He arrived in New York City in December 1920. Between 1920 and 1941 he resided in New York, during which time he held various jobs while pursuing his art career. Whether he worked with oils, tempura, pastel chalk, or Japanese sumi ink, Tamotsu began to earn a reputation. His circle of friends included John Sloan, Philip Evergood, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi, among others. He continued his studies and exhibited in many galleries and museums - among them the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the American Contemporary Artists' Gallery, and the Society of Independent Artists. From 1932-1938, Tamotsu worked on an arts project under the (WPA) Works Progress Administration. He expressed his strong concern over the Japanese army invasion of China in his works. In 1941 after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Tamotsu volunteered as a combat artist with the Office of Strategic Services, United States Army. He was stationed in New York, Washington D.C., and overseas in Kunming China until his discharge in 1945.

Following his discharge, Tamotsu went back to New York City and in 1947 he became a founding member of the New York Artists' Equity Association. Tamotsu married Louise Kates in 1948. Louise Kates Tamotsu was born and raised in New York City and served in the U.S. Army and International Military Tribunal until 1947. After their marriage, the Tamotsu's left New York and traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico to visit friends. They ended up staying in Santa Fe, making it their home.

They moved into the studio that had once belonged to good friend and fellow artist, John Sloan. Chuzo Tamotsu continued his work as an artist, participating in exhibitions and taking an active role in the community of Santa Fe. He gave chalk talks in the schools, sumi ink painting demonstrations and classes, and worked as a member of the Alliance for the Arts. In 1953 he arranged an exchange art exhibition between a group of New Mexico elementary school children and Hiroshima school children to bring about better understanding and goodwill between the two nations. The Museum of New Mexico held annual exhibitions of his art from 1950-1959. As a member of Artists' Equity Association, he helped pass legislation for the formation of the New Mexico Arts Commission.

In 1967, the Tamotsus returned to Japan to visit his family. The reunion prompted a new surge of creativity, including more than sixty sketches of Japan and a number of paintings. In 1974 he converted his studio into the Tamotsu Gallery where he exhibited his works. Chuzo Tamotsu continued painting until he passed away in Santa Fe on May 18, 1975.


3 boxes (1.76 cu. ft.)

Related Material

Chuzo Tamotzu Papers Archives of American Art. Portions of this collection were microfilmed for the Archives of American Art in 1983.

Separated Material

Pictorial material transferred to the Chuzo Tamotsu Pictorial Collection.
Finding Aid of the Chuzo Tamotsu Papers, 1924-1995
For Approval
Processed by Camelia R. Finley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 609 BC::Chuzo Tamotsu Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss609bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131