Sunday, March 20, 2011

Toshiko Takaezu

Image from Stan Yake's Biography, Toshiko Takaezu, The Earth In Bloom

Toshiko Takaezu has died - she has been one of my favorite artists since I've known about her - 30 years or so. She was 88.

She is mostly known for her ceramics - enclosed or nearly enclosed cylinders and spherical shapes with expressionistic glazes.

I remember going to a show of hers at the American Craft Museum when it was by the MOMA in the 90s. (That museum has since changed its name to Museum of Arts & Design and moved to Columbus Square). I got yelled at for taking a couple photos.

The Perimeter Gallery in Chicago always had a couple of her things - usually fairly small - on display. Some of her things were quite large - over 5 feet. They would seem to stretch the limits of what would be possible or reasonable to create.

She is credited with helping to bring ceramics into the realm of fine arts.

The New York Times article says she was influenced by the Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell - who made ceramics "to be seen and not used." She was also influenced by Zen Buddhism.

She regarded her ceramic work as an outgrowth of nature and seamlessly interconnected with the rest of her life. “I see no difference between making pots, cooking and growing vegetables,” she was fond of saying. Indeed, she often used her kilns to bake chicken in clay, and dry mushrooms, apples and zucchinis.

“You are not an artist simply because you paint or sculpt or make pots that cannot be used,” she told Ceramics Monthly in 1975. “An artist is a poet in his or her own medium. And when an artist produces a good piece, that work has mystery, an unsaid quality; it is alive.”

She was born in Hawaii and died in Hawaii and in between she studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich (where she studied with Maija Grotell), taught at the Cleveland Institute of Art for 10 years and then at Princeton for 25 years.

Moon, n.d.

I got to making painted spheres for awhile - which were partly inspired by her ceramics.