New York: Pre-Echo Press, 2023.
The result of several years of research, Heart of Hearts is the first book dedicated to the life and work of Japanese American artist Miyoko Ito. Ito was born in Berkeley, California to parents of Japanese descent and educated at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied watercolor. A month before her graduation, in 1942, Ito was sent to the Tanforan Assembly Center, an internment camp south of San Francisco. Released several years before her husband, she transferred to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago but never graduated. Unlike the other “Allusive Abstractionists” with whom Ito was loosely associated, her geometric compositions often evoke landscapes, interiors and the human body. Irregular forms are rendered in layers of paint applied horizontally, creating an ombré effect reminiscent of a sun over the horizon. Working on one canvas at a time, her technical precision was reflected in her slow working process, painting in her studio from sunrise to sunset, often seven days a week. “I have no place to take myself except painting,” she confided in a 1978 interview, “it has been my biggest life-giving force.”
While Ito’s paintings have recently been the subject of critically acclaimed exhibitions at Matthew Marks Gallery, Artists Space and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, her elegant and mysterious abstractions were and are scarcely known beyond Chicago, where she spent much of her adult life and made a career. Assembled by Pre-Echo Press and Jordan Stein—curator of Ito’s first two solo institutional exhibitions in nearly 40 years—Heart of Hearts features over 100 full-color plates, archival materials, a 1978 interview with the artist and a 5,000-word biographical essay that contextualizes Ito’s practice and aims to afford the artist her proper place within a history of postwar American art.
Miyoko Ito (1918–83) was born in Berkeley, California, to Japanese parents. As a young girl, she spent several years with her mother and sister in Japan, where she first experimented with calligraphy and painting. Ito participated in the 1975 Whitney Biennial and was honored with a retrospective exhibition at the Renaissance Society in 1980. Her work is represented in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Item #26947