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American, born Japan, 1948
Untitled, from the "Ornithopter #1" series
Oil on canvas
96 x 78 x 4 inches
Born in Osaka, Japan, Michiko Itatani began her studies in math and applied science, but moved on to calligraphy and writing fiction at Kobe University. In 1970 she moved to Chicago and began studying art at the School of the Art Institute, completing both a BA and an MA by the decade’s end when she began teaching there, which she still does. She uses her math and literature backgrounds constantly: her compositional structures are determined by complex mathematical equations and each resultant painting comprises a part of a story she is telling. In the 1990s Itatani painted very large and very small canvases but kept them separate; more recently the small predella-like panels are painted within the large paintings or attached to them. Figures were present in her work of the 1990s as part of the maelstrom swirling around hyperspace in which she immersed us. As in this painting, the action is much calmer now, celestial and earthly without being obviously either. The fans of transparent curtain-like linear planes that often arc in from the sides in multiple layers echo back to her “writings” of the 1970s which were abstract sumi ink drawings on long oblongs of rice paper. Mystery and beauty pervade her paintings.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Hawke in honor of Michigan State University Alumni John Eric Burnett, Class of 1914 and John Eric Burnett, Jr., M.D., Class of 1940