Toshiko Takaezu

Master American ceramicist Toshiko Takaezu’s aesthetic approach was influenced by Abstract Expressionism and the traditions of East Asia, including ink painting and the Japanese tea ceremony. Her signature closed forms fuse these visual inspirations and demonstrate the artist’s process of abstraction, in which she experimented with gestural application of glazes, treating the vessel as a canvas in the round. Takaezu began working towards the closed form in the 1950s, experimenting with enclosing the interior volume of her vessels and leaving a small opening that allowed for gas to escape during firing. The act of closure rendered the vessels functionless, suggesting that they now inhabited the realm of sculpture. She continued to produce these forms well into the 1990s and 2000s, at varying scales. Takaezu applied glaze onto the clay with a brush while also occasionally, in a controlled manner, dipping and pouring glaze to create dynamic surfaces. Her palette often references colors seen in nature – particularly from her native Hawaii. Untitled, ca. 1990s, is atmospheric, suggesting a foggy landscape that is speckled with hints of inky glaze. Her work is represented in many collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, DeYoung/Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Honolulu Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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