September 30, 2023–September 29, 2024

Toshiko Takaezu: Shaping Abstraction

Born in Hawaii to parents of Okinawan ancestry, Toshiko Takaezu (1922–2011) was a technically masterful and innovative artist best known for her ceramic sculptures, which she treated as abstract paintings in the round. Her gestural style, distinctive palettes, and complex layering of glazes align with the practices of Abstract Expressionists who were her contemporaries. Yet Takaezu added an element of chance as her pieces revealed their final colors only after firing. She often showed her ceramics in groups, sometimes with her equally innovative paintings and textiles, in carefully constructed arrangements that responded to their environments. This exhibition takes inspiration from these displays, tracing Takaezu’s development from potter to multimedia installation artist.

The MFA holds a significant collection of Takaezu’s pottery—more than 20 examples are featured here alongside loans from private collections. Highlights also include a large-scale weaving—a recent Museum acquisition—and a grouping of works exploring the artist’s cross-cultural interactions with contemporary Japanese ceramicists during her pivotal eight-month trip to Japan in 1955–56. In conjunction with the exhibition, additional displays on the third floor of the MFA’s Art of the Americas Wing and in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art juxtapose Takaezu with two of her friends: the ceramic artist Leza McVey and sculptor Isamu Noguchi.

Challenging traditional presentations of American abstraction, “Toshiko Takaezu: Shaping Abstraction” celebrates the extraordinary range of Takaezu’s work—aiming to make her contributions more widely known. It is organized in partnership with the Noguchi Museum and the Toshiko Takaezu Foundation.

  • Saundra B. and William H. Lane Galleries (Gallery 332)

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Supported by the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Exhibition Fund, The Amy and Jonathan Poorvu Fund for the Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Sculpture, and the Eugenie Prendergast Memorial Fund.

The exhibition would not have been possible without the collaboration of the Toshiko Takaezu Foundation and The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum. The Noguchi Museum has organized a major touring retrospective, “Toshiko Takaezu: Worlds Within,” which opens in New York in March 2024 before traveling nationally through 2026.