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Iri and Toshi Maruki

Iri Maruki,Toshi Maruki

Iri Maruki (1901–1995)

On June 20, 1901, Iri Maruki was born in a small riverside farming village just upstream from the city of Hiroshima. During the prewar period, he belonged to a number of avant-garde artists groups, such as the Rekitei Art Association and the Bijutsu Bunka Association, and he earned a reputation for a unique style of suibokuga (ink wash painting) that incorporated influences from surrealist and abstract art. In 1941 he married the oil painter Toshiko Akamatsu. In 1945, the couple traveled to Hiroshima just days after the atomic bombing; they assisted surviving members of Iri’s family and were first-hand witnesses to the aftermath of the nuclear attack. Some years later, Iri and Toshi began collaborating on the “Hiroshima Panels,” completing 15 works in this series over the next 30 years. At the same time, Iri continued to paint large-scale suibokuga, many of which featured landscapes rendered in his signature style. Iri died peacefully on October 19, 1995 at the age of 94.

Toshi Maruki (1912–2000)

Toshi Maruki  (née Toshiko Akamatsu) was born on February 11, 1912 in Chippubetsu, Hokkaido, to the family of the head priest of Zenshōji Temple. She studied oil painting at the Women’s Academy of Fine Arts (now Joshibi University of Art and Design), after which she spent time in both Russia and Micronesia. In 1941 she married the suibokuga artist Iri Maruki. After the war, she and Iri collaborated on a large number of socially engaged paintings, including the “Hiroshima Panels,” “The Rape of Nanking,” “Auschwitz,” “Minamata,” and “The Battle of Okinawa.” Toshi also earned acclaim as an author and illustrator of children’s books, including “Hiroshima no Pika” and “Tsutsuji no Musume” (about the power of longing and desire), which continue to be read widely. On January 13, 2000 she died peacefully at the age of 87.


  • 1901
    Iri is born in June in Imuro-mura, Asa-gun, Hiroshima Prefecture (now Asakita-ku, Hiroshima City).
  • 1912
    Toshi is born in February in Chippubetsu-mura, Uryu-gun, Hokkaido (now Chippubetsu Town), named Akamatsu Toshiko.
  • 1919
    Iri moves to Osaka to study design at the Seika Institute of Art.
  • 1923
    Iri goes to Tokyo to study with Tanaka Raisho at the Tennen School of Painting.
  • 1928
    Iri is selected for the first time for the 13th Hiroshima Prefectural Art Exhibition.
  • 1929
    Toshi moves to Tokyo to enroll at the Women’s Academy of Fine Arts (now Joshibi University of Art and Design).
  • 1933
    Toshi graduates from the academy and begins working as a substitute teacher at an elementary school in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture.
  • 1934
    Iri studies at Ochiai Rofu’s Meiro School of Art in Tokyo.
  • 1936
    Iri moves to Tokyo and becomes friends with Funada Gyokuju, Aimitsu, and other artists.
    His work is selected for the Seiryu-sha exhibition for the first time.
    Iri holds the 1st Geishu Art Association exhibition with Funada, Aimitsu, and others.
  • 1937
    Toshi accepts a post as tutor for he children of an official interpreter at the Japanese embassy in Moscow.
  • 1938
    Iri joins the Rekitei Art Association.
    Toshi moves to the Atelier Village artist colony in Toshima-ku, Tokyo.
  • 1939
    In March, Toshi holds her first solo exhibition at the Kinokuniya Gallery in Ginza.
    In September, her work is selected for the 26th Nika-kai Exhibition.
    In October, a joint exhibition of Iri and Funada Gyokuju’s work is held at the Kinokuniya Gallery in Ginza; it is Iri’s first exhibition.
  • 1940
    From January to May, Toshi lives in Micronesia.
    In March, Iri joins the Bijutsu Bunka Association.
    In September, Iri and Toshi meet for the first time.
  • 1941
    In January, Toshi returns to Moscow as a tutor to the Japanese ambassador’s children. Around May, she comes back to Japan.
    In July, Iri and Toshi marry and begin living together at the Atelier Village artist colony.
    In December, the Pacific War breaks out.
  • 1945
    In August, atomic bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    The Marukis stay in Hiroshima for a month in the aftermath of the atomic bomb. After returning to Tokyo, they join the Japanese Communist Party.
    In September, World War II officially ends. The occupation army issues a press code to regulate the Japanese media.
  • 1946
    In April, the Marukis join in forming the Nihon Bijutsukai (Japan Art Society). Around this time, they hold drawing events at their studio.
  • 1947
    In May, the Marukis help form the Zen’ei Bijutsukai (Avant-garde Art Society).
    Toshi joins the Joryu Gaka Kyokai (Women Painters Association) in June.
  • 1948
    In July, the Marukis move to Katase in Kanagawa Prefecture.
  • 1950
    In February, the Marukis show August 6 (later retitled Ghosts, the first of the Hiroshima Panels) in the 3rd Japan Independent Exhibition.
    In March, the Marukis show Ghosts and Night at a Hiroshima Panels exhibition at the Maruzen Gallery in Nihonbashi.
    In June, the Korean War breaks out.
    In August, an exhibition marking the completion of the Marukis’ first three panels (Ghosts, Fire, and Water) is held at the Maruzen Gallery in Nihonbashi and the Mitsukoshi department store in Ginza. They also publish the picture book Pikadon.
    In October, an exhibition of the three paintings is held at Goryu-so, a building near the A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima. This marks the beginning of a travelling exhibition that takes the panels across Japan.
  • 1951
    The Marukis paint a second version of the first three panels.
    In July, the Marukis exhibit Rainbow and Boys and Girls for the first time at the Comprehensive Atomic Bomb Exhibition in Kyoto.
  • 1952
    On April 28, the San Francisco Peace Treaty comes into force, ending the occupation. Earlier that month, the first catalogue of the Hiroshima Panels is published by Aoki Shoten.
    In August, a feature article titled “The First Publication of Atomic Bomb Damage” appears in Asahi Graph magazine. Production of the film Gembaku no Zu (The Hiroshima Panels, directed by Imai Tadashi and Aoyama Michiharu) begins; the documentary is released the following year.
  • 1953
    In January, the Marukis are awarded the International Peace Prize by the World Peace Council.
    In February, they exhibit Atomic Desert at the 6th Independent Exhibition.
    In June, Toshi participates in the World Congress of Women in Copenhagen. An exhibition of the Hiroshima Panels begins traveling internationally.
  • 1954
    In March, the Daigo Fukuryu Maru, a Japanese fishing vessel, is contaminated by fallout from an American hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll.
    In May, the Marukis are invited to show Bamboo Grove at the 1st Japanese Contemporary Art Exhibition.
  • 1955
    In February, Relief is shown at the 8th Japan Independent Exhibition.
    In June, Yaizu is shown at the 3rd Nippon Exhibition.
    In August, the first World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs is held in Hiroshima.
  • 1956
    In February, Petition is shown at the 9th Japan Independent Exhibition.
    Marking the completion of 10 panels, a world tour is organized by the Committee for the International Exhibition of the Hiroshima Panels.
  • 1959
    The Marukis contribute The Atomic Bomb: Fire and The Atomic Bomb: Water to Jofukuin Temple on Mt. Koya in Wakayama Prefecture.
    In May, the Marukis are invited to show Mother and Child at the 5th Japan International Art Exhibition.
    In June, Niji Shobo publishes a catalogue of the Hiroshima Panels.
  • 1964
    The Marukis join 10 other Communist Party members in calling for reform; they are expelled from the Party.
    The Hiroshima Panels return to Japan from overseas.
  • 1965
    In March, the Marukis move to Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture.
  • 1966
    In December, the Marukis move to Higashi-Matsuyama, Saitama Prefecture.
  • 1967
    In May, the Maruki Gallery for the Hiroshima Panels opens.
    In July, Denen Shobo publishes a catalogue of the Hiroshima Panels.
    In August, the film Gembaku no Zu (The Hiroshima Panels, directed by Miyajima Yoshio) is released.
  • 1968
    In June, Floating Lanterns is shown at the 1st So-ten Exhibition.
  • 1970
    The first 8 Hiroshima Panels go on a one-year tour of 8 cities in the United States.
  • 1971
    In July, Death of the American Prisoners of War is shown at the 4th Taiga Exhibition.
  • 1972
    In August, Crows is shown at the 5th Taiga Exhibition.
    In September, the Hiroshima Panels are exhibited at the BSN Niigata Art Museum, sponsored by Niigata Nippo-sha.
    The Maruki Gallery publishes the Hiroshima Panels catalogue.
  • 1973
    In March, The Atomic Bomb: Hiroshima, commissioned by the city of Hiroshima, is installed in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
  • 1976
    In March, The Rape of Nanking is shown at the 2nd Hito-hito Exhibition.
  • 1977
    In March, Auschwitz is shown at the 3rd Hito-hito Exhibition.
  • 1978
    The Hiroshima Panels exhibition tours 10 cities in France.
  • 1979
    In March, From the Axis Pact to Sanrizuka is shown at the 5th Hito-hito Exhibition. In May, it is also shown at the 3rd International Anti-Fascist Realistic Art Triennale in Bulgaria, where it wins the Grand Prize. The Marukis present the painting to the National Art Gallery in Sofia.
  • 1980
    In March, Minamata is shown at the 6th Hito-hito Exhibition.
    In June, Toshi publishes the picture book Hiroshima no Pika (Komine Shoten).
  • 1981
    In February, the film Minamata no Zu Monogatari (The Story of Minamata, directed by Tsuchimoto Noriaki) is released.
    In March, Minamata, Nuclear Power, Sanrizuka is shown at the 7th Hito-hito Exhibition.
  • 1982
    In May, the Marukis are invited to show Nagasaki at the 4th International Anti-Fascist Realistic Art Triennale in Bulgaria.
  • 1984
    In March, The Battle of Okinawa is shown at the 10th Hito-hito Exhibition.
    In June, the film Nuchido Takara: Okinawa Sen no Zu (Life is a Treasure: The Battle of Okinawa, directed by Maeda Kenji) is released.
  • 1985
    In March, Hell is shown at the 11th Hito-hito Exhibition.
    In May, the Marukis win the Special Grand Prize at the 5th International Anti-Fascist Realistic Art Triennale in Bulgaria.
    In August, In July, Kodansha International publishes The Hiroshima Murals.
  • 1986
    In March, the film Hellfire: Journey from Hiroshima (directed by John Junkerman) is released.
    In July, The Atomic Bomb: Paper Lantern; The Battle of Okinawa: Cape Kyan; and The Battle of Okinawa: The Cave are shown at the 1st Garyu Exhibition.
  • 1987
    In March, the three paintings in The Battle of Okinawa: Yomitan Village series (Chibichiri Cave, Shimuku Cave, and Zanpa Ojishi) are shown at the 13th Hito-hito Exhibition.
    In July, Ashio Copper Mine and Demonstration, from the Ashio Copper Mine Incident series, are shown at the 2nd Garyu Exhibition.
  • 1988
    In March, Watarase River Flood and Direct Appeal and Women’s Demonstration, from the Ashio Copper Mine Incident series, are shown at the 14th Hito-hito Exhibition.
    In April, the Marukis are awarded honorary doctorate degree by the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston. An exhibition of the Marukis’ work, Surviving Visions, is held at the college’s North Hall Gallery.
  • 1989
    In March, Burning of Fields in Yanaka Village, from the Ashio Copper Mine Incident series, and The Taigyaku Incident are shown at the 14th Hito-hito Exhibition.
  • 1992
    In July, Maruki Iri exhibition opens at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • 1994
    In November, Sakima Art Museum opens in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.
  • 1995
    The Marukis are nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
    In June, The World of Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi exhibition opens at the Ikeda Museum of 20th Century Art.
    In October, Iri dies.
  • 2000
    In January, Toshi dies.
    In March, Crows and The Rape of Nanking are shown at the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea.
  • 2001
    In May, a Maruki Toshi exhibition opens at Galleria Nike at Joshibi University of Art and Design.
  • 2002
    In October, the Hiroshima Panels are exhibited at Insadong Art Plaza in Seoul, South Korea.
  • 2005
    In September, the Hiroshima Panels are exhibited at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing.
  • 2012
    In October, the Maruki Toshi Centennial Exhibition opens at the Ichinomiya City Memorial Art Museum of Setsuko Migishi.
  • 2015
    The Hiroshima Panels tour the United States, with exhibitions at American University in Washington D.C.; Boston University; and Pioneer Works in New York City.
  • 2016
    The Hiroshima Panels (Fire and Atomic Desert) are included in an exhibition, Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965, at Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany.
  • 2018
    In March, Painting and Imagination: Bernard Buffet and Iri & Toshi Maruki Exhibition opens at the Bernard Buffet Museum in Shizuoka Prefecture.
    In September, Iri and Toshi Maruki: Understanding The Hiroshima Panels opens at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • 2019
    In May, Doshinsha publishes the story with kamishibai (paper play) picture cards Chicchai Koe (Voices from Little Things, written by Arthur Binard). All the characters in the story are based on imagery from the Hiroshima Panels.
    In October, The Maruki Gallery publishes the new catalogue The Hiroshima Panels: The Art of Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi.