National Museum of Women in the Arts
Mitsuko Tabe
January 08 1933 - present
Photograph of Mitsuko Tabe in her studio, 2002, courtesy of the artist
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
MEET-soo-koh TAH-beh
Work Type/Media:
Painting, Performance Art , Sculpture
Artistic Role(s):
Assemblage Artist, Collagist, Mixed Media Artist , Painter, Performance Artist, Sculptor, Self-taught Artist
Artist's Biography:
Mitsuko Tabe was born in Taiwan in 1933. While in her twenties, she studied art privately and developed a strong interest in avant-garde art, joining several others in the founding of the Kyushu-Ha School, an avant-garde movement in Japan that later spread to San Francisco. With this group, Tabe began more actively exploring contemporary issues such as gender, sexuality, and identity in Japan’s rapidly changing culture through her painting and performance.

Since the dissolution of the Kyushu-Ha School in the early 1970s, Tabe has explored her own development of style and media and has also sought to involve the Fukuoka community in art. Tabe was instrumental in organizing the Kyushu Female Artists Exhibition from 1974 to 1984 and became the first woman Executive Director of Integrated National Art Fukuoka. From 1995 until 1997, Tabe also served as the Director of the Fukuoka City Art League and organized regional exhibitions.

Tabe’s paintings, often large constructions with collaged images ranging from floral motifs that recall traditional Japanese screen painting to images from modern media culture, are often combined with sculptural elements, as in her Apple series. In her more recent Sign Language series, Tabe explores the silent communication of cast plaster hands in various positions of Japanese Sign Language, suggesting that although silent, they are endowed with power.

Tabe, also an art historian, has written several books on women artists. She continues to be recognized for having played an important role in the development of post-World War II art in Japan, and has been called Japan’s “Woman Picasso.”

Other Occupation(s):
Art Historian, Author, Lecturer
Place(s) of Residence:
Fukuoka City
Place(s) of Activity:
New York
Where Trained/Schools:
Private lessons (1953)
Related Visual Artists:
collaborated with Takami Sukurai collaborated with Ochi Osamu collaborated with Mokuma Kikiuhata
Fellowships, grants and awards:
First Prize, Twenty-fifth Fukuoka City Cultural Award, Fukuoka City, Japan (2000) Gold Prize, Third Nishi-Nippon Painting Exhibition, Fukuoka City, Japan (1960) First Prize, Iwataya and Asahi Shimbun Award, Fukuoka City, Japan (1958)
Earliest exhibition:
The Seibu Women's Art, Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan (1958)
Artist retrospective(s):