Today, Google is celebrating the 101st anniversary of the late Yoshizawa’s birth with a pleated “Doodle” adorned with ready-to-flutter butterflies so associated with the artist.
Yoshizawa is credited with turning origami from a children's pastime into a serious art form and was known for his innovative folding techniques. His achievements have been recognised in the Google logo with each letter being turned into a paper folding design to mimic the famous traditional art form.
Akira Yoshizawa (14 March 1911 – 14 March 2005) was an origamist, considered to be the grandmaster of origami. He is credited with raising origami from a craft to a living art. According to his own estimation made in 1989, he created more than 50,000 models, of which only a few hundred designs were presented as diagrams in his 18 books. Yoshizawa acted as an international cultural ambassador for Japan throughout his career.
His work has since been exhibited around the world and he has published more than a dozen books on the art form.
He folded graceful peacocks with lush fanned tails. He folded lumbering gorillas with protruding jaws and sunken eyes. He folded huge flying dragons, and an elephant so small it could stand atop a thimble. His origami was not so much folded paper as sculptural art, usually made from a single sheet of paper, always without glue, scissors or extraneous embellishment.
Two of Yoshizawa’s key contributions to modern origami were the technique of “wet-folding,” by which thicker moistened paper can add a soft sculptural feel to a figure; and his notational diagrams that explained how to fold a model in the universal language of arrows and dotted lines. Yoshizawa said he created tens of thousands of origami models, only a fraction of which were diagrammed.
“Instead of trying to be as lifelike as possible, he tried to make it as 'living' as possible,” Origami USA member June Sakamoto, speaking of Yoshizawa’s art, told the New York Times upon the grandmaster’s death in 2005. “If he was going to make a rooster, you really felt it was crowing, but you didn't have to see every detail of the feathers.”