Sullivan Goss
Celebrating 34 Years
of 19th, 20th and 21stCentury American Art
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Japanese American Modernist

by Alissa Anderson

Sueo Serisawa became known as one of the leading figures in the Los Angeles-based Modernist movements in art. Associated with the likes of Dan Lutz, Richard Haines, Millard Sheets, and Francis De Erdely, Sueo Serisawa helped position the West Coast as a fertile and revolutionary art center. An ambitious and talented painter, Serisawa exhibited in national shows and eventually won international recognition.

Table of Contents


Born in Yokohama, Japan on April 10, 1910 Sueo Serisawa was the son of artist Yoichi Serisawa. After moving to Los Angeles in 1918, he became ingrained in the California art scene. Perfecting his craft as a draughtsman and painter, Serisawa studied at Otis Art Institute and the Art Institute of Chicago. Serisawa became an instructor himself, teaching at Kahn Art Institute, Scripps College, and the Laguna Beach School of Art. Upon the U.S. entry into the war, Serisawa as a Japanese immigrant, became fearful of forced internment on the West Coast. He and his family moved to New York City until 1947 when they were able to safely return to Los Angeles. Serisawa spent the rest of his life in California, teaching and painting.

10" x 8"
oil on canvas
Exhibited: Face to Face: Selected American Portraits, 2004
Private Collection

In this beautifully painted portrait, the strong upward tilting brushstrokes resolve to depict iconic American glamour. To date, the gallery has only had a few portraits by the artist.


Serisawa's early work was comprised of portraiture, landscapes, and still life paintings. But soon, many of his pieces began to reflect a critical political commentary of the ensuing World War. One of his most recognized pieces, Nine O’clock News, 1939 depicts a clock and a newspaper symbolizing the moment in history when it was announced that the invasion of Poland had begun.

Sueo Serisawa was a prolific and well regarded artist. In the late 1950s he began experimenting with alternative concepts of representational art and was soon represented by one of the West Coast's most renowned galleries, Dalzell Hatfield. Here, he exhibited alongside fellow West Coast Modernists Dan Lutz, Frances de Erdely, Richard Haines, and Dorr Bothwell. As he became more involved with Modernist school in Los Angeles, his paintings began to reflect the modernist aesthetics of abstraction and cubism. Implementing elements of fragmentation and abstracted geometric forms Serisawa and his colleagues rejected the decorum of previously held artistic traditions. Experimental elements like variations in spatial planes, form, and color flavored this period of Serisawa's work and for the first time in history the West Coast became a thriving art center in the realm of American art.


  • LACMA, Los Angeles, CA
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York NY
  • Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
  • San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Pasadena Museum of Art, Pasadena, CA
  • Laguna Beach Museum of Art, Laguna Beach, CA
  • Mengei International Museum, San Diego, CA

    25" x 18"
    oil on canvas
    Exhibited: Face to Face: Selected American Portraits, 2004; San Francisco Art Museum, Los Angeles County Art Museum, Ojai Art Festival
    Private Collection

    This stunning geometric abstraction of the stylized white face of a Kabuki actor is the only work at Sullivan Goss to treat a specifically Japanese theme. The fracturing of pictorial realism was a successful strategy for the artist who used it in Spring in Woodstock as well.


  • 1949 California State Fair (medal winner)
  • 1948 California Palace of the Legion of Honor
  • 1941 LACMA (solo)
  • 1940 California State Fair (medal)
  • 1939 Oakland Art Gallery
  • 1947 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (medal)
  • Dayton Institute of Art
  • Dalzell Hatfield Gallery, Los Angeles

    Under construction

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