Toshiko Takaezu: Ceramics not only demonstrates the artist’s commitment to the medium’s sensuous pleasures but also marks her gift of 16 magnificent pieces donated to the Art Institute in 2006. The first exhibition devoted to Takaezu’s work at the museum in almost 50 years, it will feature nearly 20 of the artist’s ceramics from five decades of her career and representative examples by her mentors and contemporaries.
One of the first artists to explore ceramic’s possibilities as an independent aesthetic medium, Toshiko Takaezu revolutionized the field with abstract shapes, painterly glazes, and lyrical installations. Inspired by ceramist Maija Grotell, her teacher at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Takaezu absorbed a philosophy of irregularity and asymmetry and drew upon diverse artistic influences from Europe, Asia, and the natural world. Takaezu was also strongly influenced by the theories of Hong Kong–born potter Bernard Leach and the works of Hamada Shoji, which taught her the Zen approach of intuition and formal simplification that shaped the artist’s mature style. Through her mastery of ancient firing techniques, Takaezu created earthenware that reached sculptural heights, just as her exploration of surface decoration led her to use glaze with the same expressiveness as abstract painters. Takaezu’s ceramics lucidly articulate the cross-cultural influences of East and West, bridging her American, Hawaiian, and Japanese heritages while announcing her originality and independence.
Toshiko Takaezu. Dancing Brush, 1990. Gift of Toshiko Takaezu.