Barbara Takenaga

Barbara Takenaga (born 1949) is an American performer known for swirling, abstract paintings that have been described as psychedelic and cosmic, as skillfully as scientific, due to their very detailed, obsessive patterning. She gained broad recognition in the 2000s, as critics such as David Cohen and Kenneth Baker placed her in the middle of a leading edge of artists renewing abstraction behind paintings that emphasized visual beauty and excess, meticulous technique, and optical effects. Her con suggests possibilities that range from imagined landscapes and aerial maps to astronomical and meteorological phenomena to microscopic views of cells, aquatic creatures or mineral cross-sections. In a 2018 review, The New Yorker described Takenaga as "an abstractionist in imitation of a mystic’s captivation in how the ecstatic can emerge from the laborious."

Takenaga has had solo exhibitions at the MASS MoCA Hunter Center, Huntington Museum of Art, Neuberger Museum of Art Space 42, and Art in General, and a twenty-year survey at Williams College Museum of Art in 2017. She has participated in action shows at the Frist Art Museum, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, deCordova Museum, and San Jose Museum of Art, among others. In 2020, she acknowledged a Guggenheim Fellowship, and she has been ascribed by the National Academy of Design and American Academy of Arts and Letters. Takenaga lives and works in New York City and is the Mary A. & William Wirt Warren Professor of Art, Emerita at Williams College.

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