Michael Werner Gallery, East Hampton is pleased to present Miyoko Ito: Paintings, an exhibition of paintings by Japanese-American artist Miyoko Ito (1918-1983).
Working in Chicago in the latter half of the 20th century, Ito was an abstract painter with a distinctly personal and unique style. Antithetical to popular 20th century abstract painting, which was often flat and two-dimensional, Ito built abstract forms on her canvases by carefully suggesting architectural space, furniture, and anatomy through perspective and simple, undulating lines.
Born to Japanese parents in Berkeley, California in 1918, Ito and her family moved to Japan in 1923, arriving in the aftermath of the Kanto earthquake. The change was shocking to Ito, who was sick during most of her time in Japan. Despite her illness, she studied calligraphy and developed a love for landscape painting. In 1928, Ito and her family returned to Berkeley, where she suppressed her knowledge of Japanese to relearn English.
While finishing her education at the University of California at Berkeley, Ito was sent to an internment camp after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Through the support of her professors, she received her diploma from Berkeley and secured a spot as the only painting graduate student at Smith College, which allowed her to leave the camp. Ito then enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1944. She lived and worked in Chicago until her death in 1983.
Ito frequently exhibited her work in Chicago beginning in the 1940s. In 1955, she was included in the Carnegie Institute’s International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting. In 1972, she participated in the seminal exhibition Chicago Imagist Art, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. In 1975, she participated in the Whitney Biennial, and in 1977, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1980, The Renaissance Society in Chicago mounted a full retrospective of her work. In 2018, Artists Space in New York showed an exhibition of her work titled Heart of Hearts. Today, works are found in the collections of major US institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Smart Museum of Art, Chicago; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.