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Rakuko Naito (B. 1935)



The Larry Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT, USA.

Miami-Dade Community College, Miami, FL. USA.

Kemper Art Collection, Chicago, IL. USA.

Roland Gibson Art Foundation, SUNY

Potsdam, Potsdam, NY. USA.

Wellesley College Davis Museum, Wellesley, MA. USA.

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Buenos Aires. Argentina.

Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT.

Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. USA.

Voorlinden Museum, Wassenaar, Netherlands.

Sammlung Bruhe, Cologne, Germany.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA. USA.

Emanating a meditative aura, Rakuko Naito's works emphasize the contemplation integral to the Minimalism movement. With a high degree of stylization and concentration, her practice aligns with principles of order and arrangement. By eliminating narrative, Naito retains an element of the Western avant-garde while achieving a nuanced allure.

Born in Japan in 1935, Naito graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts. After moving to New York in 1958, she created a series of Optical works in the 1960s. Her practice evolved through the 1970s and 1980s with the creation of her Flowers series, leading into her Minimalist Paper series, which she started in the late 1990s and for which she is most renown. Naito's Paper series is quintessentially Japanese, utilizing kozo washi, a delicate paper, alongside other natural materials such as wood and cotton. Meticulously arranging her materials within a shallow box, she creates a geometric vision, presenting the solemn existence of the pure and a clear sense of traditional Japanese beauty.


In creating works that establish a space within a space, Naito examines the laws of nature in a thoughtful process that creates new relations between nature and art. However, Naito does not copy natural structures. Rather, she selects forms from a chaotic plentitude, arranging them anew. Naito's works bring into existence a new, singular world--a macrocosm contained within a microcosm. Her considered technique explores the possibilities of her medium, exploiting its fragility as her hand delicately lingers on the surface. Beyond the intrigue of the surfaces and textures that she creates, Naito solicits a curiosity of composition and a gentle ease. Though her works resemble those of Eve Hesse, Sol Lewitt, and Mel Bochner, Naito resides within her own niche of Minimalism, emphasizing material and process in a way that reflects a deep sense of contemplation. In showcasing the malleability and strength of her materials, Naito produces works of a dynamic yet delicate capacity, exemplary of a new, reimagined take on Minimalism. Since 1965, Naito has held solo exhibitions both in the United States and abroad, including Switzerland, Germany, France, and Japan. Her works are collected by art galleries and institutions across the United States and Europe, including the Larry Aldrich Museum in Connecticut, Miami-Dade Community College in Miami, Kemper Art Collection in Chicago, Roland Gibson Art Foundation in New York, Wellesley College David Museum in Massachusetts, and Muse de Arte Contemporaneo in Buenos Artes. She lives and works in New York, alongside her husband, fellow artist Tadaaki Kuwayama.


'In closely limited format, [Rakuko Naito] examines laws of nature and reflects these in a meditative process: she is creator - Creator-in the original sense when she, with her small-scale elements, brings into existence a world that is not a copy, not an imitation, but one that is singular, new, an autarch work of art with a strong aural emanation, challenging our perception."

-Elisabeth Claus

Christie’s (2019)

Available Works

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