(1908 - 1982)
Thomas Kakinuma was active/lived in British Columbia, New York / Canada, Japan. Thomas Kakinuma is known for modernist owl and bird pottery and sculpture, teaching.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Thomas Kakinuma (1908 – 1982)
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A prominent Canadian sculptor, potter and educator, Thomas Kakinuma (aka: Tommy Kakinuma) was born in Tanuma, Japan (about 100 miles north of Tokyo). He immigrated to Canada in 1937, became a naturalized Canadian in 1951, and died in Burnaby, British Columbia (part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District), where he had lived for most of his life. He taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts* and the University of British Columbia, and he exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*. His works are in the collections of several major Canadian museums.
His primary medium was stoneware. His best known subjects were birds and fish; however, he also created functional wares such as teapots, bowls and vases, family themed figures, and abstract sculptures. His styles included Abstraction*, Minimalism* and Modernism*. The term “mid-century modernism” is frequently used to describe his works. The askART auction results have some good illustrations of his figurines, the University of Victoria Art Collections website has some illustrations of his vases, bowls and other functional objects, and the Studio Ceramics Canada website has several postings for Kakinuma with numerous photos illustrating most of his oeuvre.
His art education includes correspondence classes from Waseda University, Tokyo (c. before 1937); graduation with honors, in drawing and painting, from the Ontario College of Art* (1947) [note: during and after the war, Japanese citizens had been expelled from the coast of British Columbia until April 1, 1949]; and studies at the Art Students League of New York under Yasuo Kuniyoshi (c.1948 – 1950). He also studied ceramics at the Ontario College of Art* (c.1950), and for two months in Mexico, and eight months in Kagoshima and Miyazaki-Ken, Japan on a Canada Council grant (1960 – 1961).
Kakinuma taught ceramics at the Banff School of Art* (1955 – 1956) and at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (1956 – 1962 and 1965 – 1969).
His works were exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1953), and the British Columbia Society of Fine Arts (1955 – 1959 and 1963). They were included in ten B.C. Artists Annual Exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery (1950, 1952 – 1958, 1962 and 1968); in two “Canadian Ceramics” exhibitions at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (1955 and 1957); in the Canadian Pavilion at the World’s Fair, Brussels, Belgium (1958); in two Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Spring Exhibitions (1959 and 1960); and in the International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics, Prague, Czechoslovakia (1962).
Kakinuma’s works were featured in the exhibitions “100 Years of B.C. Art”, Vancouver Art Gallery, B.C. (1958); “Ceramics by Thomas Kakinuma and Zoltan Kiss”, Vancouver Art Gallery, B.C. (1963); “Centennial Sculpture ’67”, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver (1967); “Retrospect Ceramics 80”, Robson Square Media Center, Vancouver (1980); “Achieving the Modern: Canadian Abstract Painting and Design in the 1950s”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba and touring (1992 – 1994); and “A Modern Life: Art and Design in British Columbia, 1945 – 1960”, Vancouver Art Gallery, B.C. (2004).
Kakinuma’s works were the subject of solo exhibitions held at the University of British Columbia (1956); the Vancouver Art Gallery (1962); the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, B.C. (1963); the Burnaby Art Gallery (1964); the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1966), and at the Canadian Handicraft Guild Gallery, Montreal (1966). Recently, the West Vancouver Museum hosted “The Ceramic Art of Thomas Kakinuma” (2018).
His works have also been featured in solo and group exhibitions at prominent commercial galleries such the New Design Gallery, Vancouver; Laing Galleries, Toronto; and Robertson Galleries, Ottawa.
According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum sources, his works are in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), Gardiner Museum (Toronto, Ontario), Maltwood Museum (University of Victoria, B.C.), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), Museum of Anthropology (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.), Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Alberta), and the Winnipeg Art Gallery* (Manitoba).
His awards and honors include the Grand Prize in the “Canadian Ceramics” exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum (1957); a Canada Council grant (1960); and the Silver Medal at the International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics in Prague (1962).
The Ceramic Art of Thomas Kakinuma (2018), by Debra E. Sloan, West Vancouver Museum, B.C.
A Modern Life: Art and Design in British Columbia, 1945 – 1960 (2004), by Ian Thom and Alan C. Elder; Vancouver Art Gallery and Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver, B.C.
Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see askART Publications)
Designing a Modern Identity: The New Spirit of British Columbia, 1945-60 (2001), by Alan C. Elder; Kelowna Art Gallery, B.C.
A Century of Sculpture (1998), by Sculptors' Society of British Columbia; published by Sculptors' Society of British Columbia, Vancouver
Made of Clay: Ceramics of British Columbia (1998), by Linda Doherty and Carol E. Mayer; Potters' Guild of British Columbia, Vancouver
Achieving the Modern: Canadian Abstract Painting and Design in the 1950s (1993), by Robert McKaskell et al; Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg
Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see askART Publications)
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Spring Exhibitions 1880 – 1970 (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see askART Publications)
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 – 1979 (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see askART Publications)
Retrospect Ceramics 80: An Exhibition in Celebration of Our 25th Anniversary (1980), by Hiro Urakami; Potters’ Guild of British Columbia
Members of the Fine Arts Faculty Collect (1975), by Susan Tseng et al; University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery, Vancouver
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume Three, Jacobi – Lismer (1975), by Colin S. MacDonald; Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Limited, Ottawa, Ontario
Centennial Sculpture ‘67 (1967), by Margery Dallas; Rothmans of Pall Mall, Canada
100 Years of B.C. Art (1958), by R.M. Hume; Keystone Press Ltd., Vancouver
Canadian Heritage Information Network*
University of Victoria Art Collections website
Studio Ceramics Canada website
West Vancouver Museum website
UBC Museum of Anthropology website
Royal Ontario Museum website
University of British Columbia website
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com. Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx
Written and contributed to askART by M.D. Silverbrooke.
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