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 Teruko Yokoi  (1924 - )

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Lived/Active: California/New York / Switzerland/Japan      Known for: colorful abstract floral and landscape painting

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Blühender Frühling, 1966 (2)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Teruko Yokoi Biography

Born in Nagoya, Japan in 1924, Teruko Yokoi creates paintings that are rooted in the tradition of Japanese art. She loved painting even as a child, and at an early age was given private tuition by the renowned teacher M. Suzuki near Nagoya, where she was initiated into traditional Japanese art but quickly developed a curiosity for contemporary art in Europe. After the war, she moved to Tokyo in 1949 to continue her studies in the academic course of Takanori Kinoshita. With the intense wish to learn more about modern art, she left Tokyo and moved to San Francisco in 1953. She entered the renowned California School of Fine Arts* where only a few years earlier the influential “Pacific School” had its beginnings.

During this period, Teruko  Yokoi broke away from Japanese tradition and searched for her own mode of expression, influenced by Western and above all American art, including Clyfford Still and Abstract Expressionism.* She was extremely successful, and in 1955 was offered a one-person show in the Exhibition Rooms of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

In 1955 she moved to New York, where Pollock had decisively changed painting and Rothko, Kline, de Kooning, Sam Francis and others were enjoying great success. She enrolled herself at the Academy of Hans Hofmann*, one of the greatest contemporary expressionist artists in New York at that time.  During this period, Teruko produced important works. Then, the Museum of Modern Art in New York held an exhibition of photographs of Japan by the Swiss photographer, Werner Bischof. Visiting this show proved a turning point for Teruko. She recalled her youth and was deeply impressed on re-discovering the remarkable qualities of Japanese painting, architecture and every-day life. She began to include Japanese elements in her work, including calligraphy.

In New York Teruko Yokoi met Sam Francis in 1958, and in 1959 their daughter Kayo was born. In 1962, after two year-long stays in Paris in 1960 and Tokyo in 1961, Teruko Yokoi moved to Bern, Switzerland, where she resides to this date. Her first success (in Switzerland) came in 1964 when Noldi Ruedlinger organized an exhibition for her at the Kunsthalle in Basel.

Teruko Yokoi has maintained close ties with Japan. In the mountain village Ena-City north of Nagoya, the important Teruko Yokoi Hinageshi Museum opened in 2004, and in 2008 a second private musem dedicated to her work, the Teruko Yokoi Fuji Museum, opened  in Fuji-City with a glorious view of the Fujiyama.

Excerpts taken from an essay by Eberhard W. Kornfeld

1924  Born in Nagoya, Japan
Paints since early childhood, private painting lessons.

1949  Studies in Tokyo at private art school of Takanori Kinoshita
Paints in the style of the Impressionists.

1953 Attends California School of Fine Arts (San Francisco Art Institute) in San Francisco.
Approaches abstraction.

1955 Turning point in her artistic work.
Studies in New York with Hans Hofmann and attends Art Students League, where she studies with Julian Levy.  Develops a totally abstract style.
Begins friendship with Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and other artists.

1958 Marriage to Sam Francis, which ends in divorce in 1963

1959  Birth of daughter Kayo

1960  Lives and works in Paris

1961  Lives and works in Tokyo

1962  Moves to Bern, Switzerland, where she lives to this day.

2004  Opening of Teruko Yokoi Hinageshi Art Museum in Ena, Japan.

2008  Opening of Teruko Yokoi Fuji Museum of Art in Fuji-City, Japan.

Written and submitted by Kayo Malik, daughter of the artist

 * For references for these terms and others, see AskART Glossary

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Teruko Yokoi, a painter of abstract florals and landscapes and a printmaker, watercolorist and drawing artist, was born, 1924, in Nagoya, Japan. She took private art classes with T. Kinoshita in Tokyo, and later studied at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
Her artwork brought her to New York, where she studied with Hans Hofmann, and later, with Julian Levi at the Art Students League.  In New York, she began friendships with Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and other painters on the cutting edge of abstraction and color.  

In 1957, she met artist Sam Francis in New York, married, and had a daughter, Kayo. They divorced in 1963.  

Teruko Yokoi  moved to Bern in 1962, opened her studio there, and obtained Swiss citizenship.
In 2004, a museum in Japan was built in her honor... the first one to be dedicated to a female artist.  She has participated in individual and group shows in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland and Japan.
Written and submitted October 2005 by Fran Elliott, whose information is from the son-in-law of the artist.

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