On March 5, 2009, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh opened a major retrospective of the works of Naoko Matsubara, widely (and long) recognized as one of the world's greatest woodcut printmakers. The Carnegie Museum shared the retrospective with Chatham University's art gallery, with 72 pieces exhibited at the Carnegie and 20 at Chatham. Paralleling the show, Matsubara was awarded an Honourary Doctorate to Matsubara by Chatham University.
The Carnegie exhibition followed on from another major Matsubara exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in 2003 (Tree Spirit: The Woodcuts of Naoko Matsubara; curated by ROM curators Arlene Gehmacher and Klaas Ruitenbeek, who also published a 314-page catalogue with Introductory Essay by John Rosenfield).
Naoko Matsubara was born in Japan in 1937 and from age seven grew up in Kyoto. She graduated with a B.F.A. from Kyoto Municipal College of Fine Arts in 1960, and with an M.F.A. from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1962. She also was an invited student at the Royal College of Art in London.
After a two-year period back in Kyoto (during which the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation produced a 30-minute documentary film on Matsubara), she returned to the US in 1965 at which point began four active decades of solo exhibitions, inclusions in major art collections (see illustrative list below), over a dozen books published on her work, and many dozens of reviews, features and other commentaries on her work in journals, magazines and newspapers. Matsubara moved to Canada in 1972 and since then has lived in and worked from Oakville(just outside of Toronto). In 1981, Matsubara was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy.
Along with the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Royal Ontario Museum, institutions holding Matsubara's work include the Albertina (Vienna), the Art Institute of Chicago, the British Museum, the Cincinnati Museum of Art, the Fogg Art Museum (Harvard), Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art, the Library of Congress, Meguro Museum (Tokyo), Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the White House, Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe (Hamburg), the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the New York Public Library, the National Library of Canada, the Boston Public Library, Yale University Art Gallery, New York University, and Haifa Museum.