BY Vanessa Peterson in Opinion | 12 JAN 24

Editor’s Picks: A Visual Heart-to-Heart with Miyoko Ito

Other highlights include a compilation of short stories inspired by Philip Guston and Parapraxis, a new magazine centered on psychoanalytic thought

BY Vanessa Peterson in Opinion | 12 JAN 24

Frieze Editor’s Picks is a fortnightly column in which a frieze editor shares their recommendations for what to watch, read and listen to.

Miyoko Ito, Heart of Hearts

Although more than 40 years have passed since her death, Japanese-American painter Miyoko Ito has only recently experienced a resurgence in terms of scholarship and exhibitions – including the highly praised ‘Heart of Hearts’, curated by Jordan Stein at Artists’ Space, New York, in 2018. This month sees the release of a stunning publication, co-produced by Stein and Pre-Echo Press, which brings together more than 200 images of Ito’s experimental, at times surrealist, paintings – in reproductions so vibrant they seem almost to burst off the page. The book’s foreword describes the extensive efforts of its authors in ‘sleuthing’ and following leads from peers and collectors to locate paintings in various private collections from Iowa City to New York.

Miyoko Ita page spread
Miyoko Ito, Heart of Hearts,​ 2024, page spread. Courtesy: Pre-Echo Press

Essays contextualize the depth and beauty of Ito’s practice alongside artists such as Forrest Bess and Helen Frankenthaler. In Ito’s own words, she was ‘pretty much obscure in the 1950s, raising [my] children and also staying pretty much to [myself], too’ – a statement that prompts pertinent questions around gender and art-making, and how easy it is to disappear from view and art-historical record.

Miyoko Ito, Heart of Hearts, book cover
Miyoko Ito, Heart of Hearts,​ 2024, book cover. Courtesy: Pre-Echo Press

Neither a monograph nor a catalogue raisonné – the editors note, for example, that they were only allowed to photograph nine of the 18 works contained in one private collection – Heart of Hearts is a true testament to its publishers. It might seem early to call it, but I doubt there will be a better art book released in 2024. I only hope that Ito’s paintings will travel across the Atlantic to be exhibited in the near future.

Five Stories for Philip Guston, ed. Emmie Francis and Mark Godfrey

Hot on the heels of I Paint What I Want to See (2022), a Penguin release of Philip Guston’s diaries (of which frieze published an extract in our May 2022 issue) comes an anthology of short stories responding to the artist’s life and work, commissioned and edited by editor Emmie Francis and the curator of Guston’s ongoing touring retrospective, Mark Godfrey. The stories range from a couple who leave New York to retrace the painter’s footsteps during his Woodstock retreat to a curious tale of ego, lust and insecurity in which an exhibiting artist at the Venice Biennale visits a Guston show after being jilted. Guston is the catalyst moving each story along and driving many of the characters to better understand their limits and their desires – whether that’s making art away from the distraction of failed love affairs or choosing to ignore a voicemail from a distant friend in a bid to start afresh.

Philip Guston in his studio
Philip Guston in his studio with Painter's Hand, 1975. Courtesy: © The Estate of Philip Guston and Hauser & Wirth; photograph: Denise Hare

It is a thrill to race through these short stories and to see Guston’s work refracted in different ways through the eyes of the contributing writers: Christopher Alessandrini, Thessaly La Force, Ben Okri, Lou Stoppard and Audrey Wollen. In less talented hands, the conceit of a book of fiction about a singular artist could wear thin. Five Stories, however, left me wanting more opportunities to seek out new angles from which to position the artist’s work against the politics of his own time and to explore how his rich oeuvre continues to reverberate in the present. For those in New York, there will be a book launch and readings at Karma Bookstore on 25 January.


Like many others, I have noted a turn towards psychoanalytic thought and practice permeating popular discourse and literature in recent years. (I spent my Christmas break reading Adam Phillips’s forthcoming book On Giving Up.) I’m nowhere near an expert in this realm but it has been fascinating to observe peers expressing a desire to train as analysts or to hear friends talk about insights gleaned during therapy sessions that they hope to incorporate within their artistic practice.

One publication helping us to better understand this sprawling discipline in a cultural and social sense is Parapraxis, launched in 2022 by writer and academic Hannah Zeavin and published by the Psychosocial Foundation. The biannual journal – which counts the likes of Hannah Black, Jacqueline Rose and Zoé Samudzi as advisors or editors – has addressed topics such as gender, racial dynamics and collection compulsion, offering fresh insights into how our histories can help us make sense of the present. As Zeavin noted in an article for The Guardian in 2023: ‘Psychoanalysis – that eminently 20th-century theory of sexuality and desire, of love and aggression – remains our idiom for understanding human relations in the 21st century.’

Main image: Miyoko Ito, Heart of Hearts,​ 2024, page spread. Courtesy: Pre-Echo Press

Vanessa Peterson is associate editor of frieze. She lives in London, UK.