CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 6, 2000
Two artists from the 1950s will be featured in exhibitions at the UI Museum
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Exhibitions of works by two overlooked artists who were
prominent in the 1950s -- "Kenzo Okada: A Retrospective of the American
Years 1950-1982" and "An American Sculptor: Seymour Lipton"
-- will be presented simultaneously at the University of Iowa Museum of Art
Oct. 21-Dec. 17.
Admission to both exhibitions, and to the museum, will be free.
The museum will celebrate the opening of these exhibitions with a reception
at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, part of the museums ongoing series of free
public events held on Friday evenings during the academic year. As part of
the reception, Stephen Prokopoff, former director of the UI Museum of Art
and curator of the Okada exhibition, will give a gallery tour of the exhibition
at 6 p.m.
Pamela Trimpe, the museums curator of painting and sculpture, noted
that "both of these artists have been overlooked until these current
exhibitions. They both had significant artistic achievements in their own
life times and then drifted into relative oblivion -- very unfairly. They
are both excellent artists whose works are striking and original."
"Kenzo Okada: A Retrospective of the American Years 1950-1982,"
featuring 16 of Okadas paintings, was organized at the Museum of Art.
It will be the first exhibition in the United States of Okadas paintings
in more than 15 years.
Although little-known today, during the 1950s Okada was considered a peer
of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem De Kooning. His work was shown
at the prominent Betty Parsons Gallery from 1953 through 1978. Joining the
artistic traditions of Japan with Western Modernism, his art is considered
an example of "artistic migration," falling halfway between Japanese
and American styles. In 1955, Okada was the featured American artist in the
Sao Paulo Bienal and, in 1958, he was the Japanese representative in the Venice
Okada was born in 1902 in Yokohama City, Japan, the son of a successful
industrialist. At the time, Western Modernism was a powerful influence on
Japan's visual arts and literature. Okada grew up in a cultivated domestic
environment where he was exposed to the currents of change sweeping through
He studied briefly at the Tokyo Fine Arts University, a school with a conservative
curriculum, before deciding that traditional studies were irrelevant in a
changing artistic environment. He was among the first wave of hopeful students
from Japan that moved to Paris at the end of 1924. After three years he settled
in Tokyo, where he continued to paint and to participate actively in Japanese
After World War II he sought artistic freedom in New York City, where he
soon became acquainted with artists working in an abstract idiom. He became
a U.S. citizen in 1960, but in the final years of his life he split his time
evenly between New York and Tokyo. He died in 1982.
"The remarkable force of Okada's art was to join the sensibility and
traditions of the art of Japan with the dynamism and innovation of the West,"
Prokopoff wrote for the exhibition catalogue. "Okadas work achieves
the difficult task of eliding the seeming spiritual contradictions of East
and West. His effort resonates with the multicultural striving that affects
much of todays art."
"An American Sculptor: Seymour Lipton," featuring 34 sculptures,
16 maquettes and 33 drawings, was organized by the Palmer Museum of Art of
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Penn., and the Marion Koogler
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Tex.
Probably no other American sculptor was more widely collected in the three
decades after World War II than Seymour Lipton. Lipton grew up in a strong
and supportive Jewish family in New York City. He was interested in art as
an adolescent, but his parents encouraged him to study electrical engineering.
After college he pursued dentistry as a career and established a successful
dental practice in New York City.
By 1932 Lipton had embarked upon "a period of intense self-training
in sculpture," working primarily in carved wood. For nearly two decades
he experimented with various techniques and materials. As he refined his artistic
ideology, Lipton's sculptures became more abstract and by the late-1940s,
he had selected metal as his favored medium.
Lipton retired from dentistry in 1955, devoting himself full-time to his
sculpture. He rejected traditional carving techniques and employed modern
tools and materials for his sculpture. Using an oxyacetylene torch -- perfected
during World War II -- Lipton developed an unprecedented technique of brazing
nickel-silver rods onto sheets of metal, resulting in a rust-proof, highly
textured surface. Although he did not join them socially, Lipton's sculptural
themes and artistic concerns place him firmly within the circle of the Abstract
Expressionists. Three major themes are evident in Lipton's sculpture and serve
as the focus for this exhibition: avian imagery and flight, nature, and the
concept of the hero.
"Kenzo Okada: A Retrospective of the American Years 1950-1982"
was made possible with grants from the Judith Rothschild Foundation, the Dedalus
Foundation, the Japan Foundation and Nippon Life Insurance Company.
M.C. Ginsberg Objects of Art, Inc. of Iowa City is the corporate sponsor
for events at the UI Museum of Art during the 2000-2001 season, through the
University of Iowa Foundation.
For information on the UI Museum of Art, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/uima
on the World Wide Web. Information is available on other UI arts events at
The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is
open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; 10 a.m.
to 9 p.m. Friday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Public metered
parking is available in UI parking lots across from the museum on Riverside
Drive and just north of the museum.