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History of Origami: Origami as Art

Let's go on the journey with us to see the Origami's history from the past to the present.

1. Origami as Art : Akira Yoshizawa

To understand the history of Origami after WW2, we have to know the name of a great Origami artist. His name is Yoshizawa Akira (吉澤章).

He was born in Japan in 1911. From an early age, he got familiar with Origami, and after he grew up, he started to create original Origami works by himself.

In 1954 he published his first book "Origami geijutsu (折り紙藝術, Origami Art)". As this title symbolizes, Yoshizawa was one of the pioneers of Origami as art.

In his 94-year life, he designed various works, and it is said that he made up to tens of thousands of works by himself.

Starting with the exhibition on The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1955, he held exhibitions many times in various countries, which made 'Origami' popular around the world.

In addition, he published many books on Origami, and established the grammars of pictograms, like 'mountain fold' and 'valley fold', which show how to fold a sheet.

Many of his works are models of humans and living things. Those works are so cute and realistic as if they really have life, which warms our hearts.

cf. (2019). 佐野美術館で「受贈記念 吉澤章 創作折り紙の世界」を開催、制作ワークショップも実施. Fasu, April 2 *in Japanese

In the late 1900s, there appeared many Origami artists, following pioneers like Akira Yoshizawa.
Origami was no longer merely children's play but turned to be an art which reflects artists' creativity.


International Origami Society (国際折り紙研究会). (n.d.). 吉澤章(国際折り紙研究会)・折り紙の軌跡. (Retrieved 2 December, 2019) *in Japanese. The original site has expired. This is the link to the Internet Archive.

2. Origami as Art : Evolution in Origami Design

Since the 1980s, Origami has dramatically developed in terms of technique and popularity.

  • Development in Technique

In terms of technique, the designing methods for Origami models have been highly sophisticated.

In the 1980s and 1990s, computer technology and the Internet began to evolve radically.
This circumstance helped Origami artists, including amateur Origami lovers, to discover new techniques, share and brush them up to a highly sophisticated level.

Those techniques enabled artists to design extremely complex works like never before. Those works are called Super Complex Origami.
Today, Origami artists are creating great works with high-level techniques.

  • Global Popularity

In these few decades, Origami has gained popularity all around the world. There appear many artists overseas who pursue Origami as art. For their creative works, those artists pick up motifs and use techniques that have never appeared in traditional Origami. Those works represent the diversity of globalized Origami.

In the movie below, Robert J. Lang performs a presentation about Origami on TED.
He is one of the greatest Origami artists in the world, known for his realistic works.

Besides being an artist, he is also a researcher of engineering.
As an engineer, he studies Origami mathematically and developed a computer program that helps one to design Origami works.

In the presentation, Lang shows us how Origami has evolved so clearly as everyone can easily understand.

"The math and magic of origami" by Robert Lang on TED 2008

As he mentioned in the presentation, Origami plays a great role in the scientific area. On the next page, let's see how Origami contributes to science.