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Japanese Modern Art Wiki

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Saved by Jonathon Marchesoni
on March 21, 2011 at 10:00:42 pm

Japanese Modern Art


The Gutai Group


The Gutai group, formed in 1954, is made up of Japanese avant garde artists. The word "gutai" is translated as "concrete," so named in an effort to contrast with "abstract" art. The main founder was Jiro Yoshihara, and other important members are Shozo Shimamoto, Atsuko Tanaka, Saburo Murakami, Kazuo Shiraga, and Akira Kanayama. The Gutai group wrote a manifesto in 1956, credited to Jiro Yoshihara, which stated its principles. The basic gist of the manifesto seems to be that contemporary art should be more wabi-sabi:


Yet what is interesting in this respect is the novel beauty to be found in works of art and architecture of the past which have changed their appearance due to the damage of time or destruction by disasters in the course of the centuries. This is described as the beauty of decay, but is it not perhaps that beauty which material assumes when it is freed from artificial make-up and reveals its original characteristics? The fact that the ruins receive us warmly and kindly after all, and that they attract us with their cracks and flaking surfaces, could this not really be a sign of the material taking revenge, having recaptured its original life?


Yoshihara states in the manifesto that the purpose of the Gutai group is to focus on bringing "life" to the material or medium, and experimenting with new ways of creating and experiencing art.


The Gutai group was influenced by Georges Mathieu, Michel Tapie, and Jackson Pollock and other abstract expressionists. It then went on to influence the Fluxus movement (which included Yoko Ono) as well as later Japanese Modern Art.


Jiro Yoshihara




Shozo Shimamoto

Shozo Shimamoto is breaking jars of paint against a rock in the video, which is an example of what we would call performance art. The Gutai group's philosophy of art being immediate and concrete are expressed in such a performance, in which the viewer is an important part of the equation. The viewer sees the material being experimented with, and sees it come to life with the artist's creativity. The transience of this type of art is one element of wabi-sabi that is present.


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