Naoka Matsubara, Japanese (1937 - )

Naoka Matsubara

Matsubara Naoko (松原 直子?, born 1937 in Tokushima) is a Japanese artist.

Matsubara graduated from the Kyoto University of Applied Arts in 1960. She then pursued an MFA in the School of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh on a Fulbright Travel Grant, and since then has traveled extensively and taught at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn—a rare distinction for a Japanese woman. She also studied one year at the Royal College of Art, London. Currently she lives and works in Oakville Canada.


Worth mentioning is the artist’s Kyoto heritage. Naoko Matsubara’s father was the chief priest in a Shinto shrine in Kyoto. Shrines and temples became one of the major themes of Matsubara’s works. Naoko Matsubara’s style is obviously influenced by her teacher Munakata Shiko (1903–1975), who worked in the mingei (folk art) tradition.

Her works are part of the collections of many museums around the world such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Chicago Art Institute, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Albertina in Vienna, the British Museum in London, the Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress in Washington, the Hamburg Museum of Arts and Crafts, the Haifa Museum in Israel and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.

Naoko Matsubara's sister is the novelist Hisako Matsubara, they collaborated on the publication of Japanese tale Taketori Monogatari in German. Naoko did the illustrations, while her sister did the actual translation and the commentary.

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