Fritz Capelari Biography

While known by the name Fritz in Japan, Capelari's real first name was Friedrich. Capelari was born in the south Austrian district of Carinthia. His father was engaged in painting and woodcarving for use in interior design. After studying crafts and graphics at a trade school, Capelari attended a painting academy in Vienna from 1906 to 1910. His desire to visit Japan was fostered by the Japanese student he met at this school. In 1911, Capelari was hired by the Lloyds insurance company to create paintings of Shanghai harbor, and he departed for Asia. He arrived in Japan that same year, and he spent the next few years in China, Java and Japan, finally prevented from returning to his homeland by the outbreak of World War I.    
 
In the spring of 1915, Capelari rented a house in Tokyo's Hikawa-cho (Akasaka), and upon an oppor-tunity presented by his buying reproduction ukiyo-e prints from Shozaburo Watanabe, the two men ex-perimented with the creation and publication of Shin-hanga. During that same year, he created twelve woodblock prints, including Girls Going Home in the Rain (cat.no.75), and then he published at least another three prints prior to 1920. Capelari left Japan in 1920, and two years later returned to Europe. After spending ten years in the Netherlands, Britain and Spain, he re-visited Java and Japan in 1932. He then settled down after his next return to his homeland, where he became a member of the Carinthia Art Society, and created wood sculpture and landscape paintings in oil.  The currently confirmed woodblock prints by Capelari published by Watanabe are mainly landscape and beauty prints which take Japan as their subject. The pair of bird and flower prints White Birds on Pomegranate Tree in Day  and in Night are rare among all of the prints included in this exhibition. We can note a sense of Capelari's study of ukiyo-e in his works, whether those with long, hanging scroll like formats, or those which draw their nspiration from such Edo period ukiyo-e artists as Harunobu Suzuki and Hokusai Katsushika. Conver-sely, his stylized, simplified forms, and the graphic quality found in his figural expression, provide a vivid and modern sense of his position as "foreign ukiyo-e artist."                                        
 
Source: Eyes Toward Asia, 1996 Yokohama Art Museum exhibition catalog.