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Shima Tamami (1937-1999)

Prints in Collection

Birds B
Birds B, 1959
IHL Cat. #1336c

Castle, 1961
IHL Cat. #1408

Pacific Saury and Eggplant
Pacific Saury and Eggplant, 1965
IHL Cat. #1407

Biographical Data


Source: Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Merritt, Helen and Nanako Yamada, University of Hawaii Press: Honolulu, 1992 p. 142; The Modern Japanese Print - An Appreciation, James Michener, Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1968 p. 36-38; and as footnoted.
ShimaTamami 島珠実 (1937-1999)

There is surprisingly little information on thiswell-regarded woman sosaku hanga artist who passed away in 1999.  Born in Hirosaki, Amori Prefecture on August11, 1937 she graduated from Tokyo Women’s University of Arts (Women’s Collegeof Fine Arts) in 1958.  There is noinformation about who she studied with and what led her to the create woodblock prints, but she was sufficiently talented to have received a travelgrant in 1962 from the College Women’s Association of Japan and to have herprint Tori B (Bird B) included inJames Michener’s 1962 seminal book and print portfolio TheModern Japanese Print, An Appreciation. In commenting in his book on the two women artists included in the portfolio, Iwami Reika (b. 1927) and Shima, Michener notes, "... for two women to win prizes in a competition such as the present one signalizes a triumph of no small proportion.  It has never been easy for women to attain prominence in Japanese art, and for two such young ones to have done so is indeed an accomplishment." 

Additional information available about the artist tellsus that in the early 1960s she was “married to another print artist and livingin Tokyo”1 and, at some later date, moved to the USA.2 

Notable in many of her designs is extensive use of the naturalwoodgrain of the plywood blocks to impart “textures [that] are tactile”3 to her prints.  Many of her printsfeature birds, fish or horses.

An interesting, and unexplained, aspect of Shima’s work,is how a number of the woodblocks she created were transferred to the artistTakagi Shirō (1934-1998).  Dr. Ross F. Walker states in his brief bio of the artist provided on his website thather family was unaware of Takagi’s use of the blocks until Walker brought it totheir attention in 2005.4  This collection’sprint Pacific Saury and Eggplant, isan example of a print in which Shima’s blocks were apparently re-used by Takagiwho may have known Shima (or perhaps was the unnamed artist husband Michener referred to), as he and Shima were both born in Hirosaki.

A web search shows that Shima created over 60 woodblock prints. 

Collections (Partial List)
Portland Art Museum; Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Carnegie Museum of Art; Minneapolis Museum of Art; Weatherspoon Art Museum, The University of North Carolina; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, British Museum; Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum; Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery; National Gallery of Australia; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts

1 The Modern Japanese Print - An Appreciation, James Michener, Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1968 p.36.
2 website of Ohmi Gallery http://www.ohmigallery.com/DB/Artists/Shima_Tamami.asp
3 op. cit. Michener, p. 37
4 op. cit. Ohmi Gallery

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