During the 1920s the image of dairy cows in a pastoral setting was a complex, ideologically-charged motif. The cow was one of American artist Yasuo Kuniyoshi's (1889––1953) signature iconographic emblems at this time. This article briefly assesses autobiographical, geographic, stylistic, and symbolic meanings the subject held for the artist before considering Cows in Pasture (1923, Corcoran Gallery of Art) alongside contemporaneous imagery and rhetoric employed by the U.S. dairy industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the decade following World War I, when milk was being marketed as the perfect food for future generations of Americans. Considering Kuniyoshi's penchant for creating images that engage with dairy advertisements that incorporated idyllic images of America's rural past inflected with nationalist ideology and Christian religious iconography complicates prior interpretations of his images of cows.
Yasuo Kuniyoshi's Cows in Pasture
adam greenhalgh is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland, College Park. He holds a Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship in American Art. Primary research for this article was conducted while Greenhalgh was a research fellow in the American Art Department at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C, from 2003 to 2004.
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adam greenhalgh; Yasuo Kuniyoshi's Cows in Pasture. Gastronomica 1 August 2009; 9 (3): 15–21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2009.9.3.15
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