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A Sign of Things to Come: Prints by Japanese Women Artists after 1950

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Before 1950, women rarely played a part in the production of Japanese prints, which were largely commercial products. After World War II, however, women artists were drawn to the new sōsaku hanga (creative print) movement, whose adherents approached printmaking as a form of artistic expression.

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Valley of Butterflies (Tanima no cho), 1979


Yoshida Chizuko

Gift of Chizuko, Takasuke, and Ayomi Yoshida

In 1956 a small group of these female printmakers created Joryū Hanga Kyōkai, an association that exhibited together for about 10 years. Its members included Iwami Reika and Yoshida Chizuko, both of whom are well-known today and appear in this exhibition. Despite individual successes, like Iwami’s and Yoshida’s, the number of women printmakers in Japan is still a small fraction of the total artists who are active there.

Remarkably, the Yoshida family alone boasts three impactful female printmakers, and this display represents all of them. Yoshida Fujio began to explore sensual abstracted floral themes in prints in 1950 at the age of 62. Her daughter-in-law, Yoshida Chizuko, trained as an abstract painter, but she expanded her practice in 1953 after she married a printmaker. Yoshida Ayomi is the youngest and most conceptual artist of the three, and she views her prints primarily as records of her main focus: the carving process. This exhibition features many works that the family gave to the Art Institute between 2011 and 2019.

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Sign (Kizashi), 1970


Yoshida Chizuko. Gift of Chizuko, Takasuke, and Ayomi Yoshida

A Sign of Things to Come: Prints by Japanese Women Artists after 1950 is curated by Janice Katz, Roger L. Weston Associate Curator of Japanese Art, the Art Institute of Chicago.

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