Kichizô Inagaki (1876-1951)
Currently associated with the names of Paul Guillaume and Charles Ratton, the name Inagaki is particularly well known to lovers of African and Oceanian art. He is the artist who revolutionized the art of wooden pedestal.
Born in Murakami on April 11, 1876, he was the son of a carpenter craftsman who excelled in the traditional arts of the city: the art of lacquer, sculpture and flower arrangement. In 1893, Kichizô went to Tokyo to study but the death of his brother made him quickly return to work with his father. Thanks to his father's keen eye and formative gestures, Kichizô won a first prize in sculpture in 1894 and a third place in the national competition of master lacquerers in 1899. He then entered the Tokyo School of Fine Arts where he joined the stone carving and modeling workshops. After graduating in 1904, he worked in Tokyo for an antique dealer who commissioned him to make wooden pedestals for mounting antique objects.
In June 1906, he went to Paris and followed many artists in the conquest of Western aesthetics. He first made a name for himself by selling varnished wood animal sculptures. More and more, antique dealers entrusted him with the setting of their archaeological or primitive pieces on a base. Working regularly for the dealer Joseph Brummer, Kichizô met Auguste Rodin who was fascinated by the subtlety of his woodwork. The renowned cabinetmaker then created pedestals in total adequacy with the sculpture that was entrusted to him. His talent also resides in his mastery of wood finishing on which he leaves a light veining, white, red, green or even silver. Kichizô Inagaki was also known for his furniture creations and collaborated especially with Eileen Gray.