Keiko Minami Biography

Keiko Minami




Keiko Minami, painter, printmaker and poet, was born in the Imizu District, Toyama Prefecture in Japan on February 12, 1911. Orphaned at a young age she expressed and pursued an early interest in the arts. She painted and wrote poetry in high school, and studied the art of children's stories under the Japanese novelist and poet Sakae Tsuboi. Minami attended the School of Fine Arts Tokyo (now the Tokyo University of the Arts) from 1927 until 1929.

After World War II, Minami moved to Tokyo to create children’s books, and it was there that she met her future husband, the renowned mezzotint artist Yōzō Hamaguchi. Minami and Hamaguchi moved to Paris in late 1953 where Minami began studying at the atelier of Johnny Friedlaender, a pioneer in aquatint etching. Her artistic style was also influenced by Paul Klee and Japanese artists of the Mingei folk craft movement.

In 1959, Keiko Minami was named the official artist of the United Nations for her etching Tree of Peace. The Museum of Modern Art and UNICEF reproduced many of her works as greeting cards beginning in the late 1950s. In 1961, Minami entered into a contract with the German dealer Heinz Berggruen and three of her prints were published by Associated American Artists, New York City, in the 1960s. Her prints appeared regularly at international print exhibitions.  

Minami and Hamaguchi moved to San Francisco in 1982 and both started showing with Vorpal Galleries. Her work has been collected international and is represented in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge; the Krannert Art Museum, Champaign; the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; the Tate, London; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington.

In 1996, after a forty year absence Minami returned to Japan, where she died on December 1, 2004, at age 93.