Japanese artist Akira Yoshizawa is credited with making the craft of paper folding--origami--an art form, and today Google launched their newest doodle, which celebrates what would have been his 101st birthday.
The self-taught artist worked a succession of menial jobs as a younger man, including one at a machine-tool factory where he used origami to teach geometry to apprentices. He worked on his paper sculptures for years, devising his own techniques and making the craft entirely his own. In the 30's he joined a Buddhist priesthood, where he trained for two years. He also served in the Japanese medical corps during WWll, where he made origami creations for his patients.
The artist finally gained recognition in 1952 in Japan, when his 12 figures of the Japanese zodiac were published in the magazine Asahi Graph. He managed to revitalize an ages-old art form that had been long dead and introduce it to a whole new generation. Yoshizawa passed away in 2005 on his 94th birthday.
Google is famous for their doodles, which often celebrate the lives of artists and musicians. Artist Robert J. Lang conceived and designed the new doodle, and he talks about meeting the iconic artist on Google's blog. The blog includes downloadable templates that viewers can use to make their own origami art.
"While there were other Japanese artists who explored their country’s folk art contemporaneously with Yoshizawa, his work inspired the world through a combination of grace, beauty, variety and clarity of presentation. To him, each figure, even if folded from the same basic plan, was a unique object with a unique character."
Below is a video of Yoshizawa making his creations.