Toko Shinoda

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Toko Shinoda
篠田 桃紅
Tōkō Shinoda.jpg
Shinoda Tōkō

(1913-03-28)28 March 1913
Died1 March 2021(2021-03-01) (aged 107)
Tokyo, Japan
Known forPainting, printmaking

Toko Shinoda (篠田 桃紅, Shinoda Tōkō, 28 March 1913 – 1 March 2021) was a Japanese artist working with sumi ink paintings and prints. Her art merged traditional calligraphy with modern abstract expressionism. A 1983 interview in Time magazine asserted "her trail-blazing accomplishments are analogous to Picasso's".[1] Shinoda's works have been exhibited at the Hague National Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, Cincinnati Art Museum, and other leading museums of the world.

Early life[edit]

Shinoda was born in Dairen, Kwantung Leased Territory (today Dalian, China), in March 1913. Her father, Raijiro, worked as the manager of a tobacco factory; her mother, Joko, was a housewife.[2] Two years after she was born, her family returned to Japan,[3] moving to Gifu.[2] Influenced by her father's love of sumi ink painting, calligraphy, and Chinese poetry, Shinoda started practicing calligraphy when she was six years old. She had her first solo exhibition at Kyukyodo Gallery in 1940. She began working on abstract paintings in sumi by 1945.[2][3]


Shinoda had an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1953.[4] She subsequently moved to that city three years later, residing there until 1958. There, she came into contact with the works of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, and other key figures of the abstract expressionism movement. This left a deep impression on her – she later praised these artists as "very generous people" with whom she "would share ideas and opinions on our work". During this time, her works were sold through art dealer Betty Parsons and bought by a number of high-profile collectors.[2]

Shinoda consequently moved beyond traditional calligraphy towards an expressive, abstract style upon her return to Japan.[2] She started employing lithography during the 1960s,[5] and also utilized wood pieces and created murals displayed in public places.[2] One of Shinoda's best known works was a mural at the Zōjō-ji temple that spanned 95 feet (29 m) and extended over three panels.[5] Her style was described as "an art of elegant simplicity and high drama" by The Plain Dealer in 1997.[2] The following year, her work was exhibited at the Annely Juda Gallery, marking the first time her art was displayed in London.[2][6] It was characterized by The Independent as "elegant, minimal and very, very composed", observing how "her roots as a calligrapher are clear, as are her connections with American art of the 1950s, but she is quite obviously a major artist in her own right".[6]

Shinoda was honoured on a postage stamp issued by Japan Post Holdings in 2016. She was the only Japanese artist to have been celebrated in this manner while still alive.[2][4] Her work was shown as recently as 2019 in Tokyo, two years before her death.[5]


Shinoda's works have been collected by public galleries and museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Brooklyn Museum and Metropolitan Museum (all in New York City), the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the British Museum in London, the Art Institute of Chicago, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., the Singapore Art Museum, the National Museum of Singapore, the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands, the Albright–Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Shinoda never married, considering herself "married to her work".[2] She turned 100 in March 2013[8] and died in March 2021 at a hospital in Tokyo at the age of 107.[2][9]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Takashina, Shuji. Okada, Shinoda, and Tsutaka: Three Pioneers of Abstract Painting in 20th Century Japan. Washington: Phillips Collection, 1979.
  • Tolman, Mary and Tolman, Norman. Toko Shinoda: A New Appreciation. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E Tuttle Company, 1993. ISBN 9780804819046


  1. ^ Arts of Asia. 20. Arts of Asia Publications. 1990. p. 160.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Fox, Margalit (3 March 2021). "Toko Shinoda Dies at 107; Fused Calligraphy With Abstract Expressionism". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b Tokoro, Akiyoshi (1986). Toko Shinoda. Tokyo, Japan: Galerie Tokoro.
  4. ^ a b Rothmar, Tyler (13 April 2017). "At 104, Toko Shinoda talks about a life in art". The Japan Times. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Holland, Oscar (4 March 2021). "Toko Shinoda, a leading figure in contemporary Japanese art, dies age 107". CNN. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b Ingleby, Richard (21 September 2011). "Private View". The Independent. London. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  7. ^ "Toko Shinoda". Artnet. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  8. ^ ひと:篠田桃紅さん100歳迎えなお創作に取り組む美術家. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 30 March 2013. Archived from the original on 1 April 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  9. ^ NEWS, KYODO. "Renowned Japanese sumi ink artist Toko Shinoda dies at 107". Kyodo News+.

External links[edit]