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 Ikeda Masuo  (1934 - 1997)

About: Ikeda Masuo
 

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Lived/Active: New York / Japan/China      Known for: printmaking and painting-lithography, etching

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Ad Code: 4
Masuo Ikeda
from Auction House Records.
Lady
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto:
The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto has received a gift of approximately 800 prints by the late IKEDA Masuo (1934–1997), who continues to be highly regarded as the representative of contemporary Japanese printmakers both within and without the country.  Donated by Ikeda’s partner—Ms. SATO Yoko, violinist—and their private office, the M&Y Office, these prints have been acquired and recorded as “The M&Y Collection.”  These specially selected works that Ikeda kept for himself cover his printmaking career from 1956 to 1997, including works that won prestigious awards at major print exhibitions around the world, as well as those that are not included in the existing catalogue raisonné and a valuable series of rare miniature books.  This will be the foremost public collection of Ikeda’s prints in the world, in terms of both quality and quantity.  Coincidentally, this year marks the tenth anniversary of Ikeda’s death.  369 works will be exhibited as a presentation of the newly acquired “M&Y Collection,” introducing the printmaking œuvre of an artist who led the flourish of contemporary Japanese prints in the 1960s and 1970s.

IKEDA Masuo is born in 1934 in the former Fengtian, Manchuria, and moves to Japan at 11 years of age.  In 1952, he graduates from Nagano Kita High School and, aspiring to become an artist, moves to Tokyo.  There, he studies under Ei-Q (1911–1960), one of the pioneers of avant-garde art in Japan and a founding member of the Demokrato Artists Association, and—along with other affiliates of the association, such as Ay-O and ISOBE Yukihisa—learns a variety of techniques, such as oil painting, etching, lithography, and photo-dessin, as well as theories on plastic art.  Recognizing Ikeda’s drawing talents, Ei-Q encourages him to work with colored copperplate prints, a technique that was still little practiced at the time.  This serves as a catalyst for the commencement of serious printmaking on Ikeda’s part.  Not long after beginning his career as a printmaker, his work is selected for inclusion in the 1st Tokyo International Print Biennial Exhibition (1957), and wins the Minister of Culture Award at the 2nd exhibition (1960), the Governor of Tokyo Award at the 3rd (1962), and the National Museum of Art Award at the 4th (1964).  His vivid works with a strong linear quality attracted wide attention.  In 1965, the Museum of Modern Art, New York held The Prints of Masuo Ikeda, making him the first Japanese artist to have a solo exhibition there, and in 1966, he wins the International Grand Prix in the Prints Section of the 33rd Venice Biennale.  As these events suggest, Ikeda begins to reach out overseas around this time.

From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, contemporary Japanese printmakers were repeatedly winning awards at international print exhibitions around the world, demonstrating the high level of expression and technique in Japanese prints.  This prosperity of contemporary Japanese printmaking and international recognition thereof can be attributed in no small way to Ikeda’s work and artistic activity.  Although Ikeda was producing prints in his studio in New York from 1969, he returned to Japan in 1980 and was based there from then on, and extended his brilliant talent beyond printmaking.  In 1977, he won the 77th Akutagawa Prize—the most prestigious literary award in Japan—for his novel, Offering in the Aegean, and directed the film adaptation of the same title in 1979.  His vigorous artistic activity even extended to the production of ceramic works from around 1983 onward.

It has been said that Ikeda maintained his youthful dream of becoming a painter all through his life.  A retrospective survey of approximately four decades’ worth of his prints suggests that his works from the mid-1970s onward were produced in preparation for his transformation into a painter, or perhaps in an effort to return to his youth.  It is our hope that the present exhibition will not only reconfirm the richness of expression in IKEDA Masuo’s prints, but also to explore alternative bases of criticism of these works.

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