Demonstrating a freewheeling relationship between art, body, space, and time, the exhibition features presentations of masterworks by Gutai artists including Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Takesada Matsutani, Sadamasa Motonaga, Shozo Shimamoto, Kazuo Shiraga, Atsuko Tanaka, Chiyu Uemae, Tsuruko Yamazaki, and Jiro Yoshihara. Shown together, these artists’ iconic works illuminate many of the core tenets of a movement defined by experimentation, individuality, physical action, and psychological freedom.
The Gutai Art Association was formed by Jiro Yoshihara in July 1954, in the Ashiya region of Japan. Exhorting younger artists with slogans such as, ‘Don’t imitate others!’ and ‘Engage in the newness!’, Yoshihara challenged Gutai’s members to discard traditional artistic practices and to seek not only fresh means of expression but also the origins of artistic creation itself.
The Gutai artists responded with performance, installation, flower arrangement, and music, often in public places. As Gutai artists moved in a more radical direction – creating works that occupied a liminal realm between painting and sculpture – classical painting techniques were reevaluated and largely abandoned. This exhibition brings together a selection of key works, many of which have never been shown in the United States, and asserts the vital role painting played in the Gutai movement.