Takao Tanabe was born in British Columbia in 1926. He studied in Europe, the United States and Japan.
He was head of the art program and artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for over ten years.
In 1980 he returned to British Columbia where he currently lives and works. Along with painting he also does printmaking.
Tanabe's work is part of a number of public, corporate and private collections including, The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Canada Council Art Bank, and The National Gallery of Canada, among many others.
He has recevied several honorary degrees and awards including Order of Canada, membership in The Royal Canadian Academy, and the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts.
In 2005, the retrospective Takao Tanabe was organized by Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Vancouver Art Gallery and toured nationally. Takao Tanabe has been represented by Mira Godard Gallery for over fifty years.