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Walden Pond

Walden Pond

Matsubara Naoko

An item at Art Institute of Chicago

This work was designed to serve as the wrapper for a series of 12 prints that Matsubara Naoko created in response to Henry David Thoreau's essay "Solitude," from his book Walden (1854). In "Solitude, Thoreau speaks of nature as a companion. This understanding of nature as having a spirit is in line with native Japanese Shinto beliefs, which Matsubara was very familiar with through her father, a Shinto priest. The artist once lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and she visited nearby Walden Pond on several occasions during that time. Born in Japan, Matsubara went to art school in Kyoto before studying in Pittsburgh and London. Since 1971, she has been living in Ontario, Canada.

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

An exhibit at Art Institute of Chicago

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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, some were drawn to the sosaku hanga (creative print) movement, which promoted printmaking as a form of artistic expression. In 1956 a small group of women printmakers created Jory Hanga Kyokai, an association that exhibited together for about ten years. Its members included Iwami Reika and Yoshida Chizuko, both of whom are well-known today and whose works appear in this exhibition. But despite some individual successes, female printmakers still make up a relatively small fraction of the artists active in Japan. Remarkably, the Yoshida family alone boasts three of the women represented in this display. 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 her marriage. Yoshida Ayomi, the youngest of the three, creates the most conceptual works and views her prints primarily as records of her main focus: carving woodblocks. This exhibition features many works that the family gave to the Art Institute between 2011 and 2019.