Migishi Setsuko ten, botsugō jūnen kinen: Kokoro no tabiji, mankai no sakura no moto ni [Setsuko Migishi, ten years after: A journey of the heart, a cherry tree in full bloom], Tokyo, Asahi Shinbunsha, 2010.→
Migishi Setsuko ten, seitan 100-nen kinen: Eien no hana o motomete [Setsuko Migishi, the centenary: In search of eternal flowers], ext. cat., Tokyo, Asahi Shinbunsha, 2005.→
Migishi Setsuko sakushinshū [The works of Setsuko Migishi], Tokyo, Bijon Kikaku Shuppansha, 1991.
The Shell Trip : Migishi Kotaro and Setsuko, Migishi Kotaro Museum of Art, Hokkaido, 26 juin – 1 septembre 2021
The Shell Trip : Migishi Kotaro and Setsuko, Migishi Kotaro Museum of Art, Hokkaido, Jun 26 – September 1, 2021→
Setsuko Migishi: 70 Years of Painting, Tokyu Shibuya, Tokyu Sapporo and Mitsukoshi Niigata, 1996–1997→
Setsuko Migishi: A Retrospective, National Museum of Women’s Art, Washington D.C., 1991
Trailblazing artist Setsuko Migishi was core representative of Japan’s modern yoga painting movement. She had her art world debut at the age of 20 and sustained a painting career of more than 70 years until her death aged 94.
After apprenticing under the yoga painter Saburosuke Okada (1869-1939), she studied at the Women’s School of Fine Arts (now the Joshibi University of Art and Design). While enrolled there, S. Migishi met a young artist named Kotaro Migishi (1903-1934) and ultimately became more drawn to his anti-establishment style than her professors’ academism. Following her graduation in 1924, the couple married, and over the course of their decade-long, which lasted until K. Migishi’s sudden death, they had three children. During that period, despite her impoverished lifestyle and the demands of caring for her children and in-laws, S. Migishi continued to produce artistic work. In 1925, the year she became pregnant with her first child, she was accepted to the Shunyokai Art Exhibition (founded in 1922) for the first time and exhibited several works, including Self-Portrait (Jigazo).
After the death of her husband, S. Migishi’s own personality gradually began to appear in her paintings, and she produced numerous interior portraits and still-lifes in vivid and delicate colours that suggest the influence of Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947). During the war S. Migishi continued to devote herself to her interior portraits, and immediately following the war’s end, in September 1945, she held in Japan her first post-war solo exhibition at Ginza’s Galerie Nichido, which had miraculously survived the fire bombings. In 1946, the year that women’s suffrage was first exercised in Japan, she co-founded the independent and non-juried Women Artists Association (Joryū Gaka Kyokai) and formed close friendships with the novelists Sakae Tsuboi and Fumiko Hayashi.
Immediately following the end of the war, S. Migishi was strongly impacted by the colours in a collection of paintings by P. Bonnard that she saw at the French Embassy in Tokyo. From that point on, her paintings, through which she found the “feeling of inner life”, shifted from an earlier use of decorative colour and arabesques to a style that was more grounded and that sought to capture the life inherent in every individual object. Furthermore, after meeting the painter Keisuke Sugano (1909-1963), who was to become her second husband, S. Migishi’s work moved away from a lyrical style towards one that featured more compact and straightforward compositions and forms. Her use of colour also changed: from the warm tones of reds and yellows to the more restrained shades of brown, black, white and grey. With this style, S. Migishi established a formidable reputation. In 1950 her painting Still Life (Goldfish) (Seibutsu [Gingyo]) was purchased by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, and in 1951 she was selected as Japan’s representative for the 1st Bienal Internacional de Arte de São Paulo. In 1952 she participated in the Salon de Mai in Paris and the 18th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, thereby expanding her activities to the world stage.
However, S. Migishi was not content with her success, and in 1954, she visited France for the first time. Following this trip she became aware of the need to approach the field of modern painting as a Japanese person. Afterwards, she moved to the mountain retreat of Karuizawa, a villa in the town of Oiso, Kanagawa Prefecture that overlooks the sea; to Cagnes-sur-Mer, a town in the South of France; to Véron, a small village in the Bourgogne region of France; and then once more to Oiso. She painted the landscapes and interior scenes of each place in primary colours and black lines that lent an increased wildness of expression to her works. It was a solitary path of exploration, far removed from painting circles and art trends.
A biography produced as part of the “Women Artists in Japan: 19th – 21st century” programme© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Setsuko Migishi, Jigazo [Selfportrait], 1925, oil on canvas, Collection of the Setsuko Migishi Memorial Museum, Ichinomiya City
Setsuko Migishi, Mugai-ka sumi [Detoxified], oil on canvas, Collection of the Setsuko Migishi Memorial Museum, Ichinomiya City
Setsuko Migishi, Shitsunai [Interior], 1941, oil on canvas, 162.1 × 130.3 cm, Yokosuka Museum of Art
Setsuko Migishi, Seibutsu (kingyo) [Still Life (Goldfish)], 1950, oil on canvas, 61 × 90.7, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Photo: MOMAT / DNPartcom
Setsuko Migishi, Karei [Flat fish], 1953, oil on canvas, Collection of the Setsuko Migishi Memorial Museum, Ichinomiya City
Setsuko Migishi, Hi fu tori (hi no yama nite) [Flying bird (At the fire Mountain)], 1962, oil on canvas, Collection of the Setsuko Migishi Memorial Museum, Ichinomiya City
Setsuko Migishi, Ejiputo no taka [Hawk from Egypt], 1967, oil on canvas, 130 × 162 cm, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Photo: MOMAT / DNPartcom
Setsuko Migishi, Sakuhin Ⅰ [Œuvre I], 1991, oil on canvas, Collection of the Setsuko Migishi Memorial Museum, Ichinomiya City