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Japanese Artists in the American Avant-garde 1945–1970

by Alexandra_Munroe on June 29, 1987

Originally published in Contemporary Japanese Art in America I: Arita, Nakagawa, Sugimoto. Reproduced by permission of the publisher.


Japanese Artists in the American Avant-garde 1945–1970
By Alexandra Munroe

“This universality in art is unaffected by the breaking-up of art into names and nationalities. That is making arbitrary decisions for convenience and comfort. There is Russian art, Chinese art, American art and art of other nations… But these classifications are the grouping of superficial qualities or attributes and do not pertain to the fundamental character of art.”

—Yasuo Kuniyoshi, 1949[1]

“His career and oeuvre stand as proof that cultural origins are not binding. An authentic artist can transcend his background, neither accepting its givens without question nor abandoning all he knows; rather, by opening the patterns of his heritage to currents, cultural energies, from elsewhere.”

—Carter Ratcliffe on Kenzo Okada, 1984[2]

Japanese artists have studied abroad since at least the eighth century when painters, craftsmen and sculptors working for the imperial court travelled to China to study the advanced styles of Tang civilization. Later in the fourteenth and again seventeenth centuries, traffic and dialogue between the Chinese and Japanese Zen communities was strong. Promising and ambitious monks left Japan to study with great contemporary masters in China, and brought back not only new understandings of the scriptures but also mastery of the most current modes of calligraphy and brush-and-ink painting. When Japan opened its door to the West with the Meiji Restoration of 1868, its artists, again endorsed by an enlightened government, went to Paris. There, they eagerly practiced European Realism, Impressionism and eventually abstraction. By the outbreak of World War II, some Japanese artists were established members of the Ecole de Paris.


In the mid-1940s with the emigration of many European artists to the U.S., New York usurped Paris as the international center for the avant-garde. True to their tradition of following contemporary trends abroad, the post-war generation of Japanese artists then sought their artistic identities in America, not France. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of painters, sculptors, photographers, media and performing artists have left Japan to live for a period or for life in New York. Many are and will remain unknown. Others have become major figures in the American avant-garde.


This brief essay is an attempt to trace the contributions of ex-patriot Japanese artists to the development of American art. The period represents the year between 1948, when the Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective exhibition for Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and in 1970, when Hiroshi Sugimoto—honored here in this exhibition—moved to Lo Angeles. It is hoped that this history will provide a context for appreciating the works of Nakagawa, Arita and Sugimoto as part of, not derivative from, contemporary American art.


One of the first Japanese artists to leave Japan after the war was Tsguharu Fujita (1886–1968). The reason for his departure, indeed self-exile, were specifically political: In 1947, the newly founded left-wing art association Nihon Bijutsu-kai (Japanese Artists Association) classified him as a war criminal. Like many other painters in Japan during World War II, Fujita received official rations of painting materials in exchange for producing war propaganda. Fujita had lived in Paris from 1913 to 1933 and was an established member of the Ecole de Paris when his stay in France was interrupted by Japan’s military activities and he returned to Japan. Between the years 1939, when the Army Information Section began to promote war art, and 1945, when Japan surrendered and such official wartime arts organizations as the Dai Nihon Bijutsu Hokokukai (Greater Japan Arts Association) dissolved, Fujita was one of hundreds of artists who participated in military-sponsored art exhibitions and activities. Such paintings as The Glory of Death on the Island of Atlu of 1943, depicting the first instance of “total sacrifice” (gyokusai) by Japanese forces in a major defeat by American troops, were the product of Fujita’s concession and later, the basis for Nihon Bijutsu-kai’s sanction against him.[3] Barred by this accusation from exhibiting his work in public or joining any of the new “democratic” art groups, Fujita left Japan in 1949 for the United States. He later moved to France, where he lived until his death in 1968.


While no other artists were “banned” from Japan as Fujita was, those who left in the 1950s and 60s to settle in the U.S. or Europe shared with him the need to find identity and acceptance as artists outside the various and specific confines of the Japanese art world. For Japan’s post-war avant-garde, finding a community supportive of contemporary and experimental arts became the impetus for travel.


The post-war period was not the first which saw Japanese artists leave their country to live and work in the West. With the Meiji Restoration, when a progressive group of statesmen ruling within the symbolic framework of an imperial monarchy broke Japan out of some 250-years of self-imposed isolation, artists and writers counted among the engineers, doctors, educators, city-planners and law-makers who went abroad to study the advanced ways of the Western world. The Meiji government perceived European artists’ mastery of perspective, deep space, and illusionistic form as a scientific skill and, as early as 1876, established an art school and imported the Italian artist Antonio Fontanesi (1818–1882) to teach oil painting in Tokyo. It came to be known as yoga or “Western-style painting” as distinct from Nihonga or modern “Japanese-style painting” in the traditional manner.


Attracting painters from all over Europe, Russia, America as well as the Far East to its museums, galleries and lively community of artists, critics and intellectuals, Paris was as well the Mecca for Japan’s first generation of Western-style painting students. Naturally, much of Japan’s early modern art reflects trends in Europe as developed in France. By the turn of the century, not a few Japanese painters—many sponsored by the government—travelled to Paris, studied in famous studios, and exhibited at the salon. Among the best known were Seiki Kuroda who lived in France from 1884 to 1893, Keiichiro Kume, in France from 1896 to 1893, and Saburosuke Okada, in France from 1897 to 1902.


The ideal of Paris, as a cultural model for Japan’s enlightened modernists was further advanced by the writings of such eminent authors as Kafu Nagai. Nagai, who was in France briefly in 1907, wrote essays praising the virtues of French civilization and later translated Mallarmé, Baudelaire and Verlaine. Fueled by such writings and inspired by the success of Tokyo’s first generation of painters to study in Paris, a second generation of Japanese artists went to Paris before the mid-1930s, when news of war caused them to repatriate.


While the first artists who worked in oil developed along and within the European 19th-century academic realist tradition, artists like Ryuzaburo Umehara who lived in France from 1908 to 1913 and Sotaro Yasui, there between 1907 and 1914, renounced the conservative precedent and adopted Impressionist and Post-Impressionistic styles. As mentioned above, Fujita, in France for twenty years before the war, became a fully-accepted and respected member of the Ecole de Paris.


With the establishment in 1910 of the Shirakaba (White Birch Society), a group of Japanese artists and intellectuals aligned themselves with contemporary avant-garde movements in Europe. Through their critical activities and publications—the Shirakaba led to modernist movement in Japanese arts and letters until the 1923 earthquake when its printing facilities were destroyed—the art of Cézanne, Matisse and other leaders of abstract art in Europe were introduced. Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, Surrealism and Dada also had their Japanese adherents, both in Japan where more and more artists worked in contemporary styles and in Europe itself, where many lived for brief periods. Photography was recognized too: In 1926, the Zen Nihon Shashin Renmei (Japanese Federation of Photography) was founded to promote the art of photography and that same year Iwata Nakayama, who was to become an important surrealist photographer, arrived in Paris. Thus by the second decade of the 20th century the bond between Japan and Paris, Japan and modernism was established.[4]


While the great majority of Japanese artists who studied abroad from the Meiji period up to World War II chose to go to Paris, some came to New York. Best known among them are Yasuo Kuniyoshi, in the U.S. from 1906 until his death in 1953; Toshi Shimizu, in the U.S. from 1907 to 1934; and Eitaro Ishigaki in the U.S. after 1909. While Kuniyoshi is well recognized as a significant early American modernist, Shimizu and Ishigaki are thought of as minor though recognized players in American painting of the 1920s and 30s.


As the art historian Masanori Ichikawa has observed, the artists who went to France in the late 19th and early 20th century “left [Japan] with high spirits backed by well-off families and with high expectation s toward the future.”[5] They were the ambassadors of the Meiji enlightenment, seeking the advancement of their country through the internationalization of their art. With the exception of Fujita, most of the artists went abroad for brief periods, returning to Japan where they were assured teaching positions in the established art schools and exposure in the official government salons. Those who came to America in the first decades of this century, however, represent another side of the Meiji reality: They were emigrants, “dreaming of finding good fortune but anxious and under the shadow of leaving their homeland.” They did not come to study art (what Paris was famous for); they came to collect wages (what America was famous for). And, whereas those artists who studied in France stayed for a few years, those who came to America stayed for decades or, as in Kuniyoshi’s case, for life.



Kuniyoshi came to the United States in 1906 at the age of thirteen. His intention was to learn English, make money and return to Japan within a few years, his future assured. Like many children born of poor to modestly well-off families after the economically debilitating Russo-Japanese War Kuniyoshi finished his schooling and then emigrated to the “land of opportunity.” Ichikawa writes: “It is said that village policemen encouraged second and third sons to go to the United States after they left school, and government policy also promoted going abroad in inviting language.” Arriving in Seattle, Kuniyoshi worked briefly in a railroad yard in Spokane cleaning engines in a roundhouse, the first of numerous menial jobs that were to support him until well into his career as a painter.


Kuniyoshi had no notion of becoming an artist until an English teacher in Los Angeles, where he moved shortly after his arrival, “noticed his skillful drawing of figures in an illustrated map of China, and suggested he study art.”[6] For the following three years, he attended the Los Angeles School of Art and Design and in the fall of 1910, he came to New York, dedicated to becoming an artist. Supporting himself at odd jobs (he couldn’t afford a winter coat until his third year), he studied at the National Academy of Design for a half term, the Henri School for a short time, and the modernist Independent School from 1914. In the fall of 1916, he entered the Art Students League where he studied with Kenneth Hayes.


Through his four years at the League, Kuniyoshi became one of a circle of young painters that was to lead the American modernist movement. His colleagues included Alexander Brook, Reginald Marsh, Henry Schnakenberg and Katherine Schmidt, whom he later married. He showed two paintings at the first exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917, and that same year he was invited to exhibit at the Penguin, an informal club in a brownstone on East 15th Street comprised of artists such as Walt Kuhn, “Pop” Hart, and Jules Pascin in revolt against the National Academy, the powerful and conservative establishment for the arts in New York. In 1921, Kuniyoshi exhibited in a group show at the Charles Daniel Gallery, one of the two or three dealers who showed contemporary, non-academic American work, and the following year Kuniyoshi held his first one-man exhibition there. (Kuniyoshi continued to show there until the gallery closed in 1931, after which he showed at Edith Halpert’s Downtown Gallery until 1939. Along with Kuniyoshi, Halpert had the foresight to show Charles Sheeler, Max Weber, Stuart Davis and Mardsen Hartley among others.) From 1922, Kuniyoshi showed in the Salons of America, an avant-garde exhibition organized by Hamilton Easterfield, an active collector and sponsor of Kuniyoshi and other young American modernists of this period. Kuniyoshi too was an early member of the Whitney Club—he showed in almost all of its group shows and participated in its many activities. When, in 1925, Kuniyoshi and Katherine Schmidt saved enough money to go to Europe, Juliana Force, then the Club’s director, gave them an “uproarious” farewell party. Kuniyoshi had, in effect, “made it.”[7]


Kuniyoshi’s place as one of the leading painters of his day was assured when he was included in The Museum of Modern Art’s 1929 exhibition “Nineteen Living Americans.” According to Lloyd Goodrich, curator and author of the Whitney’s 1948 Yasuo Kuniyoshi Retrospective (Goodrich was later Director of the museum), Kuniyoshi “Japanese birth bothered the critics and there was much argument as to whether or not he was American.”[8] In fact, an immigration law excluding Japanese was passed in 1924 and, like other Orientals, Japanese were not allowed to become naturalized citizens until 1954. Not “legally” an American, Kuniyoshi nonetheless thought of himself as an American artist. He defended the critics’ criticism to Goodrich: “I have worked and lived here since a boy. My art training and education have come from American schools and American soil. I am just as much an American in my approach and thinking as the next fellow.”[9]


Nationality, not art, was thus the issue for many critics and curators in Kuniyoshi’s time. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Hearn fund, established in 1906 for the purchase of contemporary art, was to “be expended for paintings by persons who are citizens of the United States of America.”[10] Morris Gilbert writing in defense of Kuniyoshi in The World Telegram protested that the German-born George Grosz, naturalized in 1938, was one of many artists in the small but growing collection while Kuniyoshi, barred citizenship, was not. “It obviously militates against Kuniyoshi,” Gilbert wrote.[11]


Being non-Western by birth was only part of the stigma: There was often criticism that a non-Western artist working in a Western style was necessarily “derivative.” Those who supported Kuniyoshi, on the other hand, credited his Japaneseness as an original contribution to modernism. Thus Lloyd Goodrich wrote:


Kuniyoshi’s early work was a unique blend of Orientalism and modernism. Basically it was Oriental, in its interest in all forms of life, its humor, its conception of pictorial design as receding planes, its freedom from illusionism… Like all his generation Kuniyoshi came to artistic consciousness at a time when the modernist philosophy was accepted by the more adventurous young painters. His Orientalism was entirely compatible with modernism, which was in part a rejection of Western naturalism, a reaching out towards the more abstract quality of non-European art. Kuniyoshi himself, however, never attempted pure abstraction. Specific subject-matter has always been essential to him. While his early work revealed the influence of certain modernists whom he admired, such as Derain, it was in no sense derivative. On the contrary it was a highly personal expression, inventing its own symbols and forms. Looking back twenty-five years, one can see that it was among the most original products of the modern movement.”[12]


Kuniyoshi’s dilemma as a Japanese-born artist working in a contemporary American milieu is typical of what many Japanese artists, both before and after 1945, had to face in the United States. While Kuniyoshi ultimately transcended the odds against him, others did not and would not. The controversy centered on the question: What qualifies an artist to be “American” or even “international” by the critics’ standards? And what is the basis for traditionally disqualifying more Asians from this “privilege” than Europeans or Russians?



Two years after Goodrich’s Kuniyoshi exhibition, the forty-eight-year-old painter Kenzo Okada (1902–1982) arrived in New York from Tokyo, heralding a phenomenon that has continued to this day, namely, the exodus of Japan’s post-war avant-garde to New York.

Born in Yokohama the son of a wealthy industrialist, Okada had a strict and aristocratic upbringing which imparted to him a respect for the classical traditions of Japan while enlightening him to the opportunities—and vogue—of Western learning. In 1922 he entered the prestigious Tokyo Art School and in 1924, decided to go to Paris to further his studies of European art. In France until 1927, Okada studied for a time with Fujita, exhibited at the Salon d’Automne, and became increasingly influenced by the Ecole de Paris. The works of André Derain, Georges Braque and Edouard Vuillard had special impact. For the next two decades, Okada pursued a Parisian style for which he won recognition in Japanese art circles, holding his first one-man exhibition at Tokyo’s Nichido Gallery in 1941. He taught at three established art schools on and off from 1940 to ’50, and was a member of the Nika-kai, the largest association of contemporary artists then active in Japan. During the war, he was evacuated along with other artists to Miyagi Prefecture, returning to Tokyo in 1946.


With the surrender of the militarist government in 1945 and the occupation by U.S. forces under General MacArthur, there was a revival and proliferation of contemporary arts activities in Japan. Art magazines such as Atelier and Mizue resumed publication in 1946 while the more avant-garde Bijutsu Techo was founded in 1948. The Ministry of Education resumed its annual Nitten exhibition in 1946 and the Yomiuri Newspaper inaugurated the Nihon Independent in 1949, an annual unjuried exhibition for progressive art.[13] Numerous art groups were re-established after being forced to close during the war and new ones were founded.[14]


But despite the range of these art activities in the late 1940s, Okada was frustrated with the bureaucracy and factionalism of the Japanese art community. He was convinced that New York was “the center of the world” and decided to move here in 1950. Ten years later, he became an American citizen.


Okada arrived at a time when Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting were indeed making Manhattan the center for new art. Contact with the New York School caused a radical shift in his work—both a discovery of his Japanese aesthetics and an embrace of contemporary abstraction. As Gordon Washburn, Director of Asia House Gallery, wrote of Okada’s developments: “…simultaneously with his adoption of Western abstraction he finally discovered Japan … the mode of Abstract Expressionism was [adopted by Okada] as a flexible instrument with which he would explore himself, his inheritance and his genius.”[15]


As Kuniyoshi’s “Oriental” works contributed to the development of early American modernism, Okada’s series of lyrical abstract compositions had significant impact on the New York School. In 1953, Okada had his first of eleven one-man shows at the Betty Parsons Gallery. Exhibiting in the same stable with Mark Rothko, Hans Hoffmann, Clyfford Still, Jackson Pollock, Theodore Stamos, Hedda Sterne, Richard Pousette-Dart, Barnett Newman and Ellsworth Kelly, Okada was an accepted member of Betty Parson’s revolutionary group of painters. These artists attended each other’s openings, exchanged ideas, and influenced each other’s work. They also lived in the same neighborhood around 10th Street and “hung out” together at the famous Cedar Bar.[16]


Okada was not the only Japanese artist Betty Parsons represented. Visiting Japan in 1958 with her friend Annie Laurie Witzel, she met the abstract painters Toko Shinoda (b. 1913) and Minoru Kawabata (b. 1911)—artists to whom she was to become friend and patron until her death in 1982.[17] She exhibited Toko Shinoda’s abstract sumi paintings in the 60s and 70s, and from 1960 gave regular one-man exhibitions to Kawabata, who had moved to New York almost immediately after she visited his studio in Tokyo.


But of the Japanese artists in Betty Parsons’ circle, certainly Okada achieved the greatest success. This can be measured by the collectors who recognized his work and bought: Duncan Phillips, John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Nelson Rockefeller and David Rockefeller, Joseph Pulitzer, Robert Scull, Peggy Guggenheim, Mrs. Vincent Astor and Mrs. Paul Mellon.[18] Museum collections included New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim and Whitney museums, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Carnegie Institute, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Yale University Art Gallery. By 1955, when he was awarded the Carnegie Institute International Prize and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Prize, Okada was generally recognized as a major painter in America.


The art critic Carter Radcliffe writes of Okada’s distinct contribution as a Japanese artist to the Abstract Expressionist and Color Field painting in New York:


Okada’s floating blocks of color have an affinity with those of a New York School painter like Mark Rothko, yet luminous color blocks also drift through the screen paintings of seventeenth-century Japan. Okada retrieved and transformed that Momoyama-period tradition, claiming it for our century and for the world of modernist painting… His career and oeuvre stand as proof that cultural origins are not binding. An authentic artist can transcend his background, neither accepting its givens without question nor abandoning all he knows; rather, by opening the patterns of his heritage to currents, cultural energies, from elsewhere.[19]


It was not only that Okada’s innate aesthetic found affinity with the abstraction of the New York School. American painters, poets, architects, composers, dancers, intellectuals and art critics alike were increasingly attracted to Oriental, particularly Japanese, art and philosophy.[20] The expressive gesture and line of Zen calligraphy resonated with Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning’s “action painting,” for example. Mark Tobey had travelled to the Far East with Bernard Leach in 1934 where he studied calligraphy in China and spent a month in a Zen monastery near Kyoto, experiences which he affirms led him to the creation of “white writing.” Zen master Daisetz T. Suzuki and Alan Watts, author of The Way of Zen (1957), were in New York in 1950s and worked closely with such artists as John Cage and Merce Cunningham to adapt Zen principles to a modernist and alternative aesthetic. Finally, in 1955 Arthur Drexler, Director of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art, erected a traditional Japanese house in the museum’s garden. His thesis was partly to underline the affinities of Japanese design and spacial concepts with the tenets of modern architecture.


Avant-garde artists in all fields were thus simultaneously investigating abstraction, reduction, and improvisation. In their pursuits, Japan offered precedent. Just as Okada fused the flat, decorative, and suggestive style of traditional Japanese painting with the all-over and mystical approach of the New York School, so too did Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline and Sam Francis, directly or indirectly, draw upon Japanese sources for their work.



Along with Betty Parsons, the New York dealers Miriam Willard Johnson and Martha Jackson did most to foster this “transcendentalism” in art. The Willard Gallery showed the work of West Coast artists Mark Tobey and Morris Graves, while Martha Jackson showed Sam Francis, Adolph Gottleib, Karel Appel, Lee Krasner, and the Spanish surrealist Antoni Tapies. It is not surprising then to find Japanese artists showing in these galleries in the 1950s and ’60s.


Miriam Willard Johnson founded the Willard Gallery in 1940. Through her friendship with Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, she was a founding member and first chairman of the Asia Society Galleries Advisory Committee and a Trustee at the Asia Society from 1961 to 1982.[21] (The Asia Society had been founded generously by John D. Rockefeller 3rd in 1956. He also served as the Board’s first chairman.) Her interest in Japanese art was related to her passion for the primitive, exotic and spiritual. This aesthetic for the universal and archetypal in art was nurtured by her studies of Jung and advanced by a group of writers and artists who gathered around her. These included Dorothy Norman, author and curator of Heroic Encounter (an exhibition presented at the Willard Gallery in 1958 which addressed universal symbols in art from Mesopotamia to Blake); Nancy Wilson Ross, the Buddhist scholar and author of Three Ways of Asian Wisdom (1966); Alan Watts; and the artists most overtly influenced by Japan, Graves and Tobey.


Among the artists who met her “criterion” — “Each in his way probing into the concealed crannies of the unconscious and incorporating his findings in his work”[22]—were the woodblock artist Shiko Munakata (1903–1975), the abstract painter Gen’ichiro Inokuma (b. 1902) and the modern calligrapher Sabro Hasegawa (1907–1957). Of these artists, Hasegawa was admired, even revered by his American counterparts in “calligraphic” action painting.


Trained in traditional practices of Japanese art, Hasegawa travelled in Europe from 1930 to ’32 and came under the influence of Le Corbusier, Alexander Calder, Arp and Mondrian. Returning to Japan, he pursued the combination of Japanese calligraphy and European abstract painting and emerged by the late 1930s as a leader of the abstract art movement in Japan. In 1937, he founded the Jiyu Bijutsu Kyokai (Association of Free Art) and published Abstract Art, the first book to demonstrate the concepts of modern abstract art in Japan. In 1953, Hasegawa organized the Japan Abstract Art Club. Its members represented a dynamic trend developing in Japan which both fed and was fed by the Abstract Expressionist and l’art informel events in the U.S. and Europe. Among them were Jiro Yoshihara, founder of Japan’s Gutai group, and the well-known printmaker Koshiro Onchi.


In 1954, the Japan Abstract Art Club was invited to exhibit at the 18th Annual Exhibition of the American Abstract Artists at the Riverside Museum. Hasegawa organized the show and was asked to speak at a forum “Abstract Art Around the World Today” at The Museum of Modern Art. The speakers included the artists Joseph Albers and Franz Kline, the art critics Aline Louchheim and Sam Hunter, and Alfred Barr, founding Director of MoMA.[23]


Following his visit to New York, Hasegawa took up residence in California. He taught at the California College of Art and Crafts, Oakland and, at the invitation of Alan Watts, lectured on Zen Buddhism at the American Academy of Asian studies, San Francisco. In 1957, the Willard Gallery in association with the Japan Society was planning an exhibition of his work when Hasegawa fell ill and died. Among the people Douglas Overton, Executive Director of Japan Society, informed by letter of Hasegawa’s deteriorating condition were his close artist friends Franz Kline and Isamu Noguchi, and the patron of contemporary Japanese art and admirer of Hasegawa’s work, Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd.[24] The exhibition was held as a memorial. Paul Mills of the Oakland Art Museum wrote for the show:


As yet no one has ever been more bold in experiment than he. Plastic sponges, commercial wallboard, rubbings from old boards and stumps, roofing paper and staples—to all new materials and techniques he imparted a sense of fitness approaching that of the ancient methods. Following the Zen teaching that all life, including its accidents, has meaning if we can but see it, he plunged boldly into whatever promising new avenue lay before him. He established a fruitful new relationship between the concept of controlled accident in Zen and the automism and action painting of modern Western art.[25]



Okada and Hasegawa’s particular styles of abstraction thus found favor and influence in New York. Contemporary with their developments, a more radical and Dadaist art was brewing in Japan. Self-christened Gutai, this group was introduced to America at the Martha Jackson Gallery.


Martha Kellogg Jackson founded her New York gallery in 1953. She came to dealing contemporary art through her involvement with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in her hometown of Buffalo, where she was elected to the Members’ Advisory Council in 1944. In 1949 she moved to New York where she studied at The Museum of Modern Art and the Hans Hoffmann School of Art. As early as1950, she began collecting William de Kooning, John Marin and Hoffmann—developing a taste which would distinguish her later on. It was Hoffmann who discouraged her from being an artist but suggested she open a gallery because she had “a terrific eye.”[26]


Almost as soon as the gallery opened on 22 East 66th Street, Martha Jackson became associated with international action painting. Her artists were not limited to New York: In Paris she met and took on Karel Arpel and in Barcelona she did the same with Antoni Tapies. Her interests in the internationalism of the transcendental impulse expressed simultaneously the New York School, Cobra, l’art informel and the Japanese Gutai became the basis of her friendship with Michel Tapié. Their collaborations would bring Japanese artists to her gallery.


Michel Tapié de Céleyran is a distant and noble cousin of Toulouse-Lautrec. From the 1940s, he became the intellectual and organizing catalyst for defining and championing a new art. He became associated with Fautrier, Dubuffet, Hartungs, Wols, Picabia and Mathieu and, in the early 1950s, with Pollock and de Kooning. Pursuing the concepts of Dada, surrealism, automatism, action painting and Zen with the latest in mathematics and metaphysics, Tapié baptized his campaign “l’art informel” for “the necessity of an autre esthetic.” His purpose: “réveiller notre responsabilité en nous appellant vers la recherche d’une esthétique nouvelle, fondée sur les nouvelles creations, et grouper une série d’ensembles d’oeuvres qui permettent déjà de faire les études préliminaires en ce sens là.”[27]


Tapié’s “research” led him to visit Japan in 1957—one of several visits. Travelling with Georges Mathieu, he met and was an immediate supporter of Jiro Yoshihara (1905–1972), founder of the Gutai group. Yoshihara, an independently-wealthy and established vanguard painter, became in the early 1950s leader and mentor to a radical group of young artists centered in Ashiya, an elegant residential town near Kobe. These fifteen artists established the Gutai (“concrete,” “non-abstract”) Art Association in 1954 and, a year later, were joined by the avant-garde Group Zero. Beginning with abstract two-dimensional works, the group soon began to stage a series of anti-art performances on stage and out-of-doors—events which Allan Kaprow later extolled as ‘the forerunner of happenings” in his seminal book Assemblage, Environments and Happenings (1966). Atsuko Tanaka hung huge sheets of pink and yellow cloth in a pine forest and invited visitors to wander through her transformed and billowing nature. Kazu Shiraga jumped in a pool of clay and water, Saburo Murakami ran through a wall of gold foil, and Sadamasa Motonaga hung huge vinyl bags filled with colored liquid from a ceiling “so that they shone,” art critic Yoshiaki Tono has written, “like a cluster of giant drops suspended in mid-air.”[28] The group emerged as the most controversial in Japan when, in the 7th annual Yomiuri Independent exhibition, all members signed their works “Gutai.”


The meeting and friendship between Tapié, Yoshihara and later Martha Jackson was to foster a major international exchange of art, exhibitions, ideas and publications between Japan, New York and Paris under the auspices of the Gutai group. Tapié organized the exhibition “The International Art of a New Era: Informel and Gutai” which was presented at the Osaka International Festival in 1958. Divided on three floors, the show included works by twenty-nine Americans (including Pollock, de Kooning, Motherwell, Kline, Joan Mitchell, Cy Twombly); twenty-six Europeans (including Caprogrossi, Mathieu, Tapies and the Russian-born Hosiasson); and twenty-seven Japanese. The ninth issue of the Gutai review (there were twelve published between 1955 and 1965) was also devoted to the exhibition. Tapié’s opening line in the introduction was: “L’art, maintenant, ne peut être pensé autrement qu’à l’échelle mondiale.”[29] Gutai had brought the Japanese into the forefront of the international avant-garde.


That same year, Yoshihara selected twenty-five works of eighteen Gutai artists to show at the Martha Jackson Gallery. This was the first time any had shown abroad. Martha Jackson introduced the artists in a press release:


For the first time the Japanese are breaking with tradition by the practice of non-objective art, an approach which is natural to them. With disarming simplicity and directness, they achieve works of extreme complication, individuality, and distinction… The Gutai are a frankly experimental group. They have taken their cue from American painting, notably Jackson Pollock. Most of the work reveal [sic] the use of a “poured” technique and a philosophy of “anything goes.” Materials vary. Canvas, oil cloth, and heavy paper, mounted on wood are used. With unusual means striking textural effects are achieved.[30]


Thereafter, Martha Jackson held small group and one-man shows for the Gutai artists Yoshihara and Sadamasa Motonaga; the abstract sculptor and Grand Master of the innovative Sogetsu School of Flower Arrangement, Sofu Teshigahara; the painter Hisao Domoto (who moved to Paris in 1956) and the sculptor Aijiro Wakita (who moved to New York in 1965).


With the exhibition of these Japanese artists in one of America’s most critical showplaces for the “international art of a new era,” two things were established: First, that the principal of contemporary abstract painting was to express a universal and transcendent image free of aesthetic, national or cultural programming and was thus international by nature and by credo. And second, that the Japanese Gutai group was simply one manifestation of a synchronistic trend in the arts called Abstract Expressionism in the U.S. and l’art informel in Europe. The arrival of the Gutai group to New York consecrated Japan’s position in contemporary art history.



Indeed, the late 1950s and early 1960s in Japan was the most active and original period for the avant-garde either before or since. In 1960, the architect Kenzo Tange formulated the theory of Metabolism with his students Kisho Kurokawa, Arata Isozaki and Kiyonori Kikutake and presented his revolutionary Tokyo 1960, a plan for the future of cities. The modern dancers Tatsumi Hijikata and Ono Kazuo were developing Buto, a uniquely Japanese performance art, while Shuji Terayama, Tadashi Suzuki and Juro Kara were founding new forms of theatre. Similar excitement pervaded the literary and cinema undergrounds.


In the arts, two groups emerged whose members would make their way to America by 1970. These were Group Ongaku and the Neo-Dada Organizers. Group Ongaku (“music”) was basically comprised of young composers who were students of the ethnomusicologist Fumio Koizumi at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts (Geidai). Influenced by traditional non-Western music and the contemporary theories of indetermination and musique concret as developed by Stockhausen and John Cage, this group began experimenting with improvisation and taped sounds and formed a group in 1961.[31]


Informed of their activities by John Cage (who visited Japan in 1962) and by the conceptual composers Toshi Ichiyanagi and Yoko Ono who were living in New York, George Maciunas invited Group Ongaku to participate in his Fluxus movement. Soon after, Takeshi Kosugi, Mieko Shiomi, and Shigeko Kubota arrived in New York. Some years later, Yasunao Tone followed. Of these artists, Kubota has achieved most renown in the U.S. and Europe for her video work, while Tone has collaborated on important works with Merce Cunningham and others.


Maciunas immediately integrated the recent arrival of young Japanese artists into his realm of activities. These included street performances, happenings, and “events”—at once an homage to Dada and a prelude to conceptual art. Among the other members of Fluxus were John Cage, Joseph Beuys and George Brecht. Ay-0 and Yoko Ono were also active, affirming again the Japanese presence and dynamic in American Art.


The Neo-Dada Organizers were another anti-art group founded in the early ’60s. However short-lived—the association of nine members lasted nine months—their impact was immediate and significant. They staged events, often political on the streets and on television and held exhibitions of “junk art” in Tokyo galleries. The group was at once influenced by and reacting against Duchamp, Rauschenberg and Johns—so much so that when Rauschenberg visited Japan in 1964 and saw Ushio Shinohara’s “imitation art” of his own Coca-cola Plan, he exclaimed “My son! My son!”


Beside Shinohara who moved to New York in 1969 on a grant from the JDR 3rd fund, the other Neo-Dada artists who exhibited and lived in New York in the 1960s are Masanobu Yoshimura. Shusaku Arakawa, and Tomio Miki. While Shinohara (b. 1932) developed the Pop aspect of Neo-Dada with a series of large assemblage canvases and sculptures devoted to “images lifted from Bazooka gum wrappers, comic books, Broadway, Coney Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the subways,”[32] Arakawa (b. 1936) refined the conceptual to an extreme. The critic Lawrence Alloway, an early champion of Arakawa’s, wrote the following Arts Magazine review in 1969 of his mixed-media panels that pursue “the logic of meaning, the texture of meaning:”


Compared to other artists who have used verbal and pre-existing visual signs (such as arrows), Arakawa is logical and austere. He has separated signed from the hand-written burr of Jim Dine’s word paintings and from the manipulative fussing of Jasper Johns. Nor is he involved as Indiana in his number and word paintings with the “pleasure of finish.” Arakawa has found a kind of discourse, separated by its economy and directness, from existing notions of painterly touch and finish. Having arrived at this neutral point of materiality, the situations he posits are highly complex in their rationality… Arakawa requires of the spectator a shrewd eye (for his subdued but present elegance) and the ability to read his paintings, both for the sense of words they contain and for the visual total which is more than, and different from the words.[33]



Two other Japanese artists who emerged as prime innovators in the 1960s New York art world were the Pop sculptor, performer, and painter Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) and the conceptual artist On Kawara (b. 1933). Both these artists also achieved recognition and influence in Europe, especially West Germany.


Born in Matsumoto, Kusama studied at the Kyoto Arts and Crafts School (Kyoto Kogei Gakko) and, as early as 1952, held a one-man exhibition of 240 works at the Matsumoto Civic Hall. In 1955, the surrealist poet and art critic Shuzo Takiguchi, grand patron and mentor to the Japanese avant-garde since before the war, organized a show of her work at the Takemiya Gallery in Tokyo. In 1957, Kusama moved to New York. “This move,” critic Udo Kultermann has written, “was based on her early awareness that only in New York could she continue her development as a contemporary artist.”[34] She studied at the Art Students League, the Brooklyn Museum Art School and the Washington Irving School in New York. Reviews of her first exhibition in the U.S., at the Zoe Dusanne Gallery in Seattle, anticipated her later acclaim as one of the most experimental artists working in America in the 1960s:


At first glance her painting resembles gigantic structures of lace; but if one examines what appears to be variations on a formal theme, the subtlety and distinction of her visual imagination becomes more and more vivid. She works on a large scale, with no specific center of balance, whorls of white pigment meshing into dense or light textures against a black ground. It has the effect somewhat of a net floating on the ocean, a veil shimmering across reality. I could not help but think that her style expresses obliquely and delicately the sense of the void so germane to Buddhistic thought. Where she goes from here is anyone’s guess; she has developed her methods to a fine point.[35]


In an interview in After Dark some years later, Kusama explained the obsessional inspiration for her early “Infinity Net” paintings: “They began to cover the walls, the ceiling, and finally the whole universe. I was standing at the center of the obsession over the passionate accretion and repetition inside of me.”[36] These themes of obsession and repetition lead her to create a series of polka-dot paintings. These and other works were introduced at the active but short-lived Nova Gallery in Boston; the Brata, Hilda Carmel and Stephen Radich galleries in New York; and the Gres Gallery in Washington, D.C. In 1960, she was the only Japanese artist selected for the seminal “Monochrome Malerei” (Monochrome Painting) exhibition in the Stadtisches Museum Leverkusen, West Germany. The exhibition was an attempt to define an international trend in painting concepts and included works by Mark Rothko, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein and Guenter Ueker. In 1961, her work was exhibited in the invitational Whitney Annual and the Carnegie International Exhibition. Thus, within four years since her arrival in New York, Kusama was being recognized as an international figure in the emerging pop and conceptual art movements.


The environmental aspect of Kusama’s paintings—one measured thirty-three feet long—lead her from two-dimensional work to creating installations of repetitive forms in soft sculpture. In her one-man “Driving Image Show” at the Castellane Gallery in New York in 1963, she carpeted the floor with macaroni shells, plastered the walls with her “Infinity Net” and “Polka-dot” paintings, and displayed furniture infested with hundreds of phallus-like forms made of stuffed cloth. In a photograph taken at the show, Kusama exhibits herself sprawled nude on her “Sex Obsessional Furniture” —with polka-dots all over her body.[37]


Her soft or “sewing-machine” sculptures anticipated and immediately related to the three-dimensional Pop art of Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, and Arman—artists with whom Kusama became friendly in the mid-1960s. (She participated in various of Warhol studio “events” and happenings.) From 1964, Kusama began working with electricity, kinetics and mirrors, creating installations with psychedelic effects on the viewer. These again attracted much attention in New York avant-garde circle. That year, she was selected for the exhibition “Group Zero” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania and in 1965, for the “Multiplicity Show” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Her activities in Holland, Germany and Italy also increased, culminating in her participation in the 1966 Venice Biennale.


From 1968, Kusama staged more and more happenings, “fashion works”(Kusama designed the fabric and dresses, many of which had holes for the breasts etc.) and nudist anti-war demonstrations at public monuments. She also began publishing the weekly Kusama Orgy which reported on her activities. Acting as director, Kusama gathered American friends and models to perform in these radical events. These included her collaboration with Judd Yalkut on a film “Kusama’s Polka Dot Obliteration” which won an award at the Belgian International Short Film Festival. The Belgian Television then included Kusama in a series called “Eleven New York artists.” Others in the series were Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Marisol, Jim Dine and George Segal.


Kusama’s work in New York (she returned to Japan in 1972) was deeply connected to the times and to her own psychological illness.[38] The issues she was addressing were urgent, political and spiritual. Her concerns both reflected and stimulated the quasi-religious and socially decadent atmosphere which gripped the avant-garde during the Vietnam War. “In the gap between people and the strange jungle of civilized society lie many psychosomatic problems,” Kusama has written. “I am deeply interested in the underlying causes of problems involved in the relations of people, society and nature. My artistic expressions always arise from accumulation of such problems.”[39]


The distinguished art historian Sir Herbert Read summed up Kusama’s poignant and original vision:


I discovered Kusama’s art in Washington, several years ago, and at once felt that I was in the presence of an original talent. These early paintings, without beginning, without end, without form, without definition, seemed to actualize the infinity of space. Now with perfect consistency, she creates forms that proliferate like mycelium and seal the consciousness in their white integument. It is an autonomous art, the most authentic type of super reality. This image of strange beauty presses on our organs of perception with terrifying persistence.[40]


Kusama’s return to Japan signaled both the end and beginning of an era. The struggle that had attended being an artist in New York, Japanese in particular, was beginning to relax as more and more galleries, museums and collectors invested in the talent of the young, unknown and foreign. Kusama’s art posited itself in clash with the establishment: By the early 1970s, her underground was establishment.



Two institutions in particular had the foresight and leadership to identify emerging Japanese artists in the 1960s and so foster the receptivity and recognition of contemporary Japanese art in America. The first is the Asian Cultural Program of the JDR 3rd Fund established in 1963 under the direction of Porter McCray, and the second is The Museum of Modern Art.


The Asian Cultural Program was conceived and set up by John D. Rockefeller 3rd to open “new avenues of cultural exchange between Asia and the United states that would not only enrich the lives of individuals, but also help lay the groundwork for greater international cooperation.”[41] Mr. Rockefeller had first travelled to the Far East in 1929 and again in 1951 when, as special consultant to John Foster Dulles, he prepared a report on cultural relations between the United States and Japan. He then lead in the revitalization of the Japan Society, the establishment of the International House of Japan in Tokyo, and the founding of Asia Society. His cultural interest in Asia lead him to collect importantly in that area, and contemporary Asian art was not excluded.


Under the direction of Porter McCray, since 1949 the program director for The Museum of Modern Art’s international exhibition exchanges, the JDR 3rd Fund has as among its goals the “advancement of opportunities for Asians” and the “exhibitions and performances of Asian cultural achievements in the United States.”[42] The first allowed travel and study grants to the United States for visual and performing artists for some twenty-one Asian countries. The second made possible a broad range of cultural exchange projects. Granting exceptional attention to contemporary art, Porter McCray fostered some one hundred Japanese painters, sculptors, composers, designers, dancers and art critics to visit and study in the U.S. from 1963 until his retirement in 1975. Among them were a number of the individuals discussed in this essay, including the composers Fumio Koizumi and Toshi Ichiyanagi who were related to Group Ongaku; the Gutai artist Sadamasa Motonaga; the Neo-Dada artists Ushio Shinohara and Tomio Miki; and the art critic who championed the Japanese 1950s and 60s art movements, Yoshiaki Tono. Some of the grantees, such as Shinohara, stayed in the U.S. Others, here for a year or so, achieved success and recognition for their original and significant activities. The JDR 3rd Fund, now called the Asian Cultural Council and directed by Richard Lanier, thus did much to establish dialogue, exchange and collaboration between Japanese and American artists during the critical and active post-war decades.


Since its inclusion of Yasuo Kuniyoshi in the 1929 “Nineteen Living Americans” exhibition, The Museum of Modern Art continued to foster contemporary Japanese art in America. By the mid-1960s, it had acquired by gift or purchase some eleven works by Japanese artists, including three paintings by Kuniyoshi, two by Okada and one by Hisao Domoto.[43] (This does not represent six works by the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who, by reason of his American birth, is not included in this discussion.) With its major exhibition, “The New Japanese Painting and Sculpture,” in 1966 it acquired another ten.


Curated by MoMa’s Dorothy C. Miller, Curator of the Museum Collections and William S. Lieberman, Curator of Drawings and Prints, the exhibition was the first in the U.S. to present a “survey” of contemporary Japanese art. Selections were drawn from Japan, Europe and the U.S., representing forty-six artists—thirty of whom lived in Japan, nine in the U.S. and four in France. The show was funded by the San Francisco Museum of Art, co-organizer of the show, the JDR 3rd Fund and the International Council of MoMA.


Much of the work selected for the exhibition represented the tendencies of the Japanese abstract, Gutai and Neo-Dada artists. Lieberman wrote: “After the war, the Japanese developed a violent attraction to abstract, non-representational art. Today, painters of abstract compositions in oil are the best and most original artists of Japan…”[44] Several of these artists, as we have discussed, had influence and following in the U.S. Among them were Genichiro Inokuma who lived in New York and showed at Willard; Jiro Yoshihara, Hisao Domoto and Sadamasa Motonaga who shoed at Martha Jackson Gallery; the Gutai artists Atsuko Tanaka and Kazuo Shiraga; the ex-Neo-Dadaists Tomio Miki, sculptor, and Arakawa, painter; and the Betty Parsons painter, Minoru Kawabata.


“The New Japanese Painting and Sculpture” culminated and identified the remarkable developments in post-war Japanese art that, since the early 50s, were gaining international recognition in the Guggenheim and Carnegie Internationals and in the Sao Paolo and Venice Biennales as well as in European and American galleries and museums. The West had proved it could transcend its 19th-century nostalgia for the exotic and decorative “floating world” of Japanese art to accept, and honor, the “violent” expressions of Japanese artists working after the atom bomb. For Japanese contemporary art had not only become a tangent of international trends; it offered, as Lieberman concludes, something original. “If one may predict the future from the past, “he wrote, few can doubt that in the twentieth century, as so often before in her history, Japan will benefit by international contacts and stimuli from abroad, and from her own native genius will produce an art distinctly her own.”[45]

Originally published in Contemporary Japanese Art in America I: Arita, Nakagawa, Sugimoto. Reproduced by permission of the publisher.

Alexandra Munroe. “Japanese Artists in the American Avant-garde, 1945–1970.” In Contemporary Japanese Art in America I: Arita, Nakagawa, Sugimoto, pp. 12–20. Exh. cat. New York: Japan Society, 1987.

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[1] Yasuo Kuniyoshi. The League Quarterly (Spring, 1949), p. 6.

[2] Carter Ratcliffe. “Kenzo Okada” in Kenzo Okada (New York: Marisa del Re Gallery, Inc., 1984). p. 3.

[3] For an illustration of this painting, see Japon des Avant-Gardes: 1910–1970 (Paris: Editions du George Pompidou, 1986), p. 237.

[4] For further history of the Japanese avant-garde and the relationship to Paris, see Ibid. This major exhibition catalogue includes essays on pre- and post-war Japanese art, architecture and design by thirty-six Japanese and French scholars including the chief curators for the exhibition, Germain Viatte and Shuji Takashina, Paris in Japan: The Japanese Encounter with European Painting (St. Louis: Washington University Gallery of Art, 1987) (forthcoming).

[5] Masanori Ichikawa. “Yasuo Kuniyoshi: The Problems of Japanese-American Artists” in Japanese Artists who Studied in the U.S.A. and the American Scene (Tokyo: National Museum of Modern Art, 1982), p. 174. Other quotations in the following discussion are also from this source.

[6] Lloyd Goodrich. Yasuo Kuniyoshi (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1948), p. 6.

[7] Ibid., p. 25.

[8] Ibid., p. 35.

[9] Ibid., p. 36.

[10] Documents pertaining to the Hearn Fund, The Metropolitan Museum of Arts Archives, New York.

[11] Morris Gilbert, “Portrait of the Artist: Kuniyoshi, Born in Japan and Widely Traveled, Feels at Home Only in New York,” The World Telegram, 23 February 1940.

[12] Goodrich, p. 23.

[13] The Nihon Indépendent, also known as the Yomiuri Indépendent, was held annually from 1949 until 1963. It was the chief showcase for the avant-garde throughout its duration.

[14] From the beginning of the twentieth century, Japanese artists tended to form art associations and groups and exhibit collectively. Some groups had hundreds of members and lasted many years, such as the Nika-kai to which Okada belonged, and others were fleeting anti-establishment causes founded by a handful of artists in protest. Whatever the kai, an artist’s identity was mute without one.

[15] Gordon Washburn. “Kenzo Okada” in Kenzo Okada: Paintings, 1931–1965 (Buffalo, NY: The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1965), p. 3.

[16] Jack Tilton to Munroe, 30 March 1987.

[17] Annie Laurie Witzel to Munroe, 30 March 1987.

[18] “Kenzo Okada: Purchase” in Kenzo Okada artist files, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York.

[19] Ratcliffe, p. 3.

[20] Interest in Oriental aesthetic principles was introduced to early American modern artists by the famous Orientalist, Ernest Fenollosa (1853–1908) who wrote Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art, the first scholarly attempt to present Far Eastern art history to the West. His teachings influenced the young Arthur Wesley Dow who then introduced the Japanese approach to abstraction to the New York avant-garde with his book, Composition (1931)

[21] Miani Johnson to Munroe, 28 March 1987. Other information about Marian Willard Johnson is based on this interview.

[22] Marian Willard Johnson quoted by Miani Johnson in Willard Gallery 50th Anniversary Exhibition, In Memory of Marian Willard Johnson 1904–1985. (Exhibition announcement.)

[23] “18th Annual Exhibition of American Abstract Artist” in Sabro Hasegawa artist files, Willard Gallery, New York.

[24] Douglas Overton to Franz Kline, Isamu Noguchi et al. Letter dated 11 March 1957 in Hasegawa artist files, Willard Gallery.

[25] Paul Mills. Untitled manuscript in Hasegawa artist files. Willard Gallery.

[26] Carl Hecker to Munroe, 31 March 1987.

[27] Francese Vicens. Prolégomènes à une Esthétique Autre de Michel Tapié. (Barcelona: Centre International de Recherche Esthétique, 1960), p. 19.

[28] Yoshiaki Tono. “Art in the Early Sixties” in Art in Japan Today (Tokyo: Japan Foundation, 1974), p. 17.

[29] Michel Tapié. “Introduction “ in Gutai 9 (Osaka: Publishing Committee of Gutai, 1958), p. 1.

[30] “Paintings by The Gutai Group of Osaka, Japan” press release on microfiche. David Anderson Gallery, New York.

[31] Yasunao Tone to Munroe, 2 April l 987. Other information about Group Ongaku and Fluxus based on this interview.

[32] Rand Castile. “Ushio Shinohara: Tokyo Bazooka” in Shinohara (New York: Japan Society, 1982), p. 8.

[33] Lawrence Alloway. “Arakawa’s Paintings: A Reading.” Arts Magazine (November 1968), p. 69.

[34] Udo Kultermann. “Yayoi Kusama and the Concept of Obsession in Contemporary Art” in Kusama: Obsession (Tokyo: Fuji Television Gallery Co., Ltd., 1982).

[35] John Voorhus. “Kusama, Hibbard.” Seattle Post Intelligence, 18 December 1957.

[36] Quoted in Kultermann.

[37] For photograph of Kusama in “Driving Image Show” installation, see Yayoi Kusama (Tokyo: Parco, 1986), pl. 19.

[38] For a discussion of Kusama’s illness, see Toshiaki Minemura “Y.K.—A Person from Another Planet” in Yayoi Kusama: Infinity-Explosion (Tokyo: Fuji Television Gallery Co., Ltd., 1986).

[39] Quoted in Gordon Brown. “Yayoi Kusama: The First Obsessional Artist” in Yayoi Kusama: Obsession.

[40] Quoted on frontispiece in Yayoi Kusama: Obsession.

[41] The JDR 3rd Fund and Asia: 1963–1975 (New York: JDR 3rd Fund, 1977), p. 14.

[42] Ibid., p. 16.

[43] Painting and Sculpture in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1977).

[44] William S. Lieberman. “Introduction” in the New Japanese Painting and Sculpture (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1966), p. 11.

[45] Ibid., p. 11.

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