Takao Tanabe

Canadian [b. 1926]

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts

Born in Prince Rupert, BC, Takao Tanabe, the son of a commercial fisherman, spent his summers at fishing camps along the Skeena River. After a period of internment as a “Japanese alien” during WWII, Tanabe began his artistic training with Joseph Plaskett in 1946, attending the Winnipeg School of Art from 1946 to1949. Subsequently, he continued his studies at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, New York (1951-52); The Banff School of Fine Arts (1953); the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London (1953); and the Tokyo University of Arts (1959-61).

Takao Tanabe is one of Canada’s most important contemporary landscape painters, with an exhibition history now in its seventh decade, and a distinguished career as an arts educator and advocate. Tanabe was involved with the Banff School of Fine Arts (now the Banff Centre) from 1973-1980, where he headed the Art Department and was an artist-in-residence, bringing a new vitality and vision to the program. He moved to Vancouver Island in 1980. He is a member of the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia, and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. He has received numerous awards for his work which can be found in many public collections including the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa); Vancouver Art Gallery; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; Art Gallery of Ontario; Glenbow Museum (Calgary); McMaster Museum of Art (Hamilton); and Tate Museum (U.K.). In 2005, a national touring retrospective of Takao Tanabe’s work was organized jointly by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Over the course of his career, Tanabe evolved from an abstract painter to a landscape painter, developing a minimalist style that is uniquely his own. A Tanabe landscape strips away non-essential details, creating serene compositions that reward long, contemplative viewing. His works are appreciated for their transcendent light and atmosphere, with images that fluctuate from delicate and misty to stormy and brooding.

In a 2014 interview, published in the National Gallery of Canada Magazine, Tanabe explains:

I decide to paint a landscape and I am a Minimalist type of painter. But I avoid the manmade stuff which is the railway lines, the telephone poles, the grain elevators and cows. I didn’t put in any cows. So essentially, it’s stripped down human intervention to the basic, which is kind of just patterning the landscape……..It might be my old age. But the whole idea is Mother Nature, not human intervention, that I see and try to paint.

We are currently seeking works by Takao Tanabe to be included in future auctions.

If you are interested in selling with us or wish to get our opinion of the value of your artworks please contact us for an appointment to evaluate your artwork for auction.

A Few Notable Results from our Auctions

Takao Tanabe

ERRINGTON, B.C., LOOKING EAST TO THE MAINLAND, 1/82; 1982
acrylic on canvas
34.5 x 55.25 in.

Sold for $ 35,000 (hammer price) – November 2018

Takao Tanabe

THE LAND, BANFF SERIES; 1973
acrylic on canvas
42 x 84 in.

Sold for $ 25,000 (hammer price) – May 2018

Takao Tanabe

AUTUMN FOOTHILLS; 1979
acrylic on canvas
33.5 x 55 in.

Sold for $ 18,000 (hammer price) – November 2014

Takao Tanabe

BANFF, THE LAND B-75
acrylic on canvas
26 x 44 in.

Sold for $ 12,000 (hammer price) – November 2012

Takao Tanabe

ALBERTA FOOTHILLS 3/80 A DISTANT VIEW; 1980
acrylic on canvas
55 x 72 in.

Sold for $ 11,000 (hammer price) – May 2017

Takao Tanabe

LOW TIDE/RATHTREVOR; 1990
colour woodcut on paper; ed. #31/50
15 x 24.75 in.

Sold for $ 3,500 (hammer price) – June 2017

Since 1983, Hodgins Art Auctions is your trusted source for buying and selling art by Takao Tanabe and other important Canadian artists.

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