Anno Mitsumasa (安野光雅, 20 March 1926 - 24 December 2020) was a highly acclaimed Japanese artist and illustrator of picture books, an author of children’s books and an art teacher. His intricate drawings of landscapes in pastel watercolours earned him countless international awards. He died on Christmas Eve, 2020.


Anno Mitsumasa (安野光雅)
Anno was born in 1926 in Tsuwano, Shimane Prefecture. He grew up in Shimane and enrolled in Yamaguchi Prefectural Ube Technical High School in 1940. At school, he showed an early interest in art, drawing, and Hermann Hesse's writings. He graduated from the school’s mining department in 1944 and found work at Sumitomo Mining Corporation. Soon after, he was drafted into the army, where, in the war's final days, he was involved in constructing a secret landing craft in Kagawa Prefecture.

After demobilisation in 1946, he worked as an elementary school teacher in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture - without graduating yet. He later graduated from Yamaguchi Normal School and moved to Tokyo in 1949, where he taught mathematics for about ten years. He also started to engage in book design and illustrations.

Around this time, he designed a textbook series for Japanese language education. At the age of thirty-five, he resigned as a teacher and became a freelance artist. His debut as a picture book writer was Fushiginae (ふしぎなえ, "Mysterious Pictures"). Considered his masterpiece, Fushiginae became popular for its drawings of mysterious worlds, greatly influenced by the works of the Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher which he had seen when he travelled to France in 1961. Anno later stated that he had fallen under the spell of Escher's drawings.

His 'Journey' series, launched in 1977, gained international fame and was translated into many languages. The Journey books depict landscapes of particular nations and regions populated with tiny characters that introduce local art, culture, and history and allude to historical events and cultural references.

In the spring of 2001, the Anno Mitsumasa Museum of Art (安野光雅美術館) was inaugurated in his native Tsuwano. In the summer of 2011, the exhibition "The World of Mitsumasa Anno" was held at the Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature. In 2015, the exhibition "Travel Scenery Mitsumasa Anno Europe Tour" was held at the Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Museum of Art (東郷青児記念 損保ジャパン日本興亜美術館) in Tōkyō.

Although best known for his children's books, his paintings earned him great recognition in Japan. On 24 December 2020, he died in Koganei, Tōkyō, of liver cirrhosis at 94.

Heike Picture Book

The Exiling of the Ministers of State from ‘Tale of the Heike Picture Book’ (1996)

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References:


Awards:

  • Chicago Tribune Honor Award (1970)
  • The Minister of Education's Art Encouragement Prize for New Artists (1974)
  • Kate Greenaway Medal, commended runner-up (1974), Anno's Alphabet
  • Brooklyn Museum of Art Award (1975)
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Picture Book (1975), Anno's Alphabet
  • BG–HB Honor, Picture Book (1977), Anno's Counting Book
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Picture Book (1978), Anno's Journey
  • BIB Golden Apple Award (1979)
  • Graphic Award, Bologna Children's Book Fair (1980)
  • Hans Christian Andersen Award (1984)
  • Person of Cultural Merit (2012)

Works:

  • Mysterious Pictures (ふしぎなえ, 1968)
  • Jeux de construction (1970)
  • Topsy Turvies (1970)
  • Upside Downers (1971)
  • Zwergenspuk (1972)
  • Dr. Anno's Magical Midnight Circus (1972)
  • Anno's Alphabet (1974)
  • Anno's Counting Book (1975)
  • Anno's Journey (旅の絵本, 1977)
  • Anno's Animals (1979)
  • Anno's Italy (1979)
  • The Unique World of Mitsumasa Anno: Selected Works, 1968-1977 (London: Bodley Head, New York: Philomel, 1980)
  • Anno's Magical ABC (1981)
  • Anno's Counting House (1982)
  • Anno's Britain (1982)
  • Anno's USA (1983)
  • Anno's Flea Market (1984)
  • Anno's Three Little Pigs (1985)
  • The King's Flower (1986)
  • All in a Day (1986)
  • Anno's Sundial (1987)
  • Anno's Upside Downers (1988)
  • In Shadowland (1988)
  • Anno's Peekaboo (1988)
  • Anno's Faces (1989)
  • Anno's Aesop: A Book of Fables (1989)
  • Chyi Miaw Gwo (1990)
  • Anno's Medieval World (1990)
  • Anno's Masks (1990)
  • The Animals (1992)
  • Anno's Hat Tricks (1993)
  • Anno's Twice-Told Tale (1993)
  • Anno's Magic Seeds (1995)
  • Anno's Journey (1997)
  • Anno's Math Games (1997)
  • Anno's Math Games 2 (1997)
  • Anno's Math Games 3 (1997)
  • Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar (1999)
  • The Art Of Mitsumasa Anno: Bridging Cultures (with Ann Beneduce) (2003)
  • Bungotai for Youths (2003)
  • Anno's Spain (2004)