About the collection
This online series presents the Library's full collection of 56 Frank Kunishige textura tissue photographs, donated in 1961 by his wife, Gin Kunishige. Kunishige was a skilled Pictorialist photographer and one of the first members of the internationally recognized Seattle Camera Club.
Selected prints from this collection are currently on display in the exhibit Frank Kunishige at The Seattle Public Library which runs September 15 to December 15, 2015 in the Level 8 Gallery of the Central Library. This show features 33 prints representing the full range of Kunishige's artistic photographs, including flowers, landscapes, nudes and cityscapes.
About the artist
Frank Asakichi Kunishige was born in Japan on June 5, 1878. He came to the United States via San Francisco in 1895. After graduating from the Illinois College of Photography, he opened a small photography studio in San Francisco. Kunishige moved to Seattle in 1917. In the same year, he married Gin Kunishige and began working in the studio of Edward S. Curtis. There he became acquainted with Ella McBride who he later worked for after leaving Curtis' studio. Kunishige was well known for his use of Pictorialism, a popular painterly style of photography. He developed his photographs on “textura tissue,” a paper of his own creation, which allowed him to produce luminous prints. His work was featured nationally and internationally in exhibitions and publications such as Photo-Era and Seattle’s Town Crier.
In 1924, Kunishige became one of the founding members of the Seattle Camera Club, a group of local photographers including Kyo Koike, Yukio Morinaga, Iwao Matsushita and Fred Y. Ogasawara. The group formed a tight-knit social circle where they discussed new photography techniques and exchanged ideas about their work. Although the group was initially solely Japanese, they soon welcomed more members including Ella McBride, their first female member. When World War II struck and the country’s Japanese internment policy was put in place, Kunishige and his wife were forced to leave Seattle for Idaho where they were interned at the Minidoka camp. After their release, Kunishige spent two years working at a photography studio in Twin Falls, Idaho but eventually returned to Seattle due to his poor health. Frank Kunishige passed away on April 9, 1960.