May Highlights at the Library

Spring in D.C. is a treat for nature lovers, so this month we’re featuring an extraordinary Japanese woodcut print artist, Naoko Matsubara, whose lyrical woodcuts of trees evoke beauty, majesty and visual appeal. Highly original and spontaneous, her impressive oeuvre covers a broad range of styles and subject matter.

Naoko Matsubara's Tree Spirit

Naoko Matsubara’s Tree Spirit

The exhibition catalogue featured in this post, Tree Spirit: The Woodcuts of Naoko Matsubara (Royal Ontario Museum, 2003), features about 60 pieces of her work out of a collection of 177 at the Royal Ontario Museum, created over four decades between 1957 and 1996. This collection comprises only a small sample of her overall oeuvre, which consists of well in excess of 1,000 pieces.

Naoko Matsubara, Plum Blossoms, 1985; black woodcut print (single block, pine, on pure kozo paper), 68.6 x 49.5 cm.; As featured in Tree Spirit

Naoko Matsubara, Plum Blossoms, 1985; black woodcut print (single block, pine, on pure kozo paper), 68.6 x 49.5 cm.; As featured in Tree Spirit

Matsubara was born and raised in Japan; she now lives in Canada, where she is still producing woodcut prints. Throughout her life, she has been extremely active as a printmaker, with at least 75 solo national and international exhibitions. Her distinctive style integrates East Asian pictorial traditions with Western geometric abstraction.

Tree Spirit illustrates Matsubara’s artistic development over the years, from monochromatic to bold color, from organic forms inspired by nature to abstract geometric forms. Readers will also have the opportunity to learn about Matsubara’s background and the recurring themes in her work. The catalogue has been produced in full color with wonderful reproductions of many of her pieces, organized by theme.

We welcome all to stop by to look at this beautiful book in person. The Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center is open to the public Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–noon and 1 p.m.–5 p.m. If you’re touring the museum’s exhibitions, the library makes a great starting point on the fourth floor! In addition to the beautiful books and comfy reading chairs, visitors enjoy interesting exhibitions of artist’s books, archival manuscripts, and rare books. Reference Desk staff are always happy to answer questions and offer assistance. We hope to see you soon!

—Jennifer Page is the Library Assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.