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Sold at Auction: Toshiko Takaezu



Toshiko Takaezu (June 17, 1922 – March 9, 2011) was an American ceramic artist, painter, sculptor, and educator who was known for her rounded, closed forms that viewed ceramics as a fine art and more than a functional vessel. She is of Japanese descent and from Pepeeko, Hawaii.

Takaezu was born to Japanese immigrant parents in Pepeekeo, Hawaii, on 17 June 1922. She moved to Honolulu in 1940, where she worked at the Hawaii Potter's Guild creating identical pieces from press molds. While she hated creating hundreds of identical pieces, she appreciated that she could practice glazing.

Takaezu attended Saturday classes at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1947 to 1949) and attended the University of Hawaii (1948, and 1951) where she studied under Claude Horan. From 1951 to 1954, she continued her studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (1951), where she met Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell, who became her mentor. Takaezu earned an award after her first year of study, which acknowledged her as an outstanding student in the clay department.

n 1955, Takaezu traveled to Japan, where she studied Zen Buddhism, tea ceremony, and the techniques of traditional Japanese pottery, which influenced her work. While studying in Japan, she worked with Kaneshige Toyo and visited Shoji Hamada, both influential Japanese potters.

She taught at several universities and art schools: Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin; Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio (10 years); Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii; and Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (1967–1992), where she was awarded an honorary doctorate.

She retired in 1992 to become a studio artist, living and working in the Quakertown section of Franklin Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, about 30 miles northwest of Princeton. In addition to her studio in New Jersey, she made many of her larger sculptures at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Takaezu made functional wheel-thrown vessels early in her career. Later she switched to abstract sculptures with freely applied poured and painted glazes. In the early 1970s, when she didn't have access to a kiln, she painted on canvas.

Takaezu died on March 9, 2011 in Honolulu, following a stroke she suffered in May 2010. The Toshiko Takaezu Foundation was established in 2015 to support and promote her legacy.
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