Exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo “Atsuko Tanaka. The Art of Connecting” Opening Talk Session “Things Connected by Atsuko Tanaka”

Banner of Opening Talk Session by Atsuko Tanaka

The solo exhibition "Atsuko Tanaka. The Art of Connecting" will take place at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo from Saturday February 4, which has come back from its exhibition tour in Europe, having started at Ikon Gallery (Birmingham, U.K.) and traveled to the Espai d'art contemporani de Castelló (Valencia, Spain).

The Japan Foundation and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo will present opening talk session "Things Connected by Atsuko Tanaka" by Atsuko Tanaka (1932-2005) on the occasion of the exhibition in Tokyo, which was held as the first solo exhibition in Europe after the interval of nine years. In recent years, Atsuko Tanaka has received much acclaim both in Japan and abroad as one of the leading female artists associated with the Japanese postwar avant-garde art group Gutai. The representatives of three art museums which are co-planners of this exhibition will be invited to this session, and explore the significance of arts created by Atsuko Tanaka in the past and present art scene from an international perspective.

Opening Talk Session "Things Connected by Atsuko Tanaka"

Date February 4 (Sat.), 2012
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Door open at 12:30 p.m.)
Curators Jonathan Watkins (Director, Ikon Gallery)
Lorenza Barboni (Director, Espai d'art contemporani de Castelló)
Yuko Hasegawa (Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo)
Moderator Akio Seki (Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo)
Venue Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, lecture hall 2nd basement
Admission Free
*With Japanese consecutive interpretation
Capacity 200 people on a first-come, first-served basis
Organizers Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, The Japan Foundation

Exhibition Outline

Title Atsuko Tanaka. The Art of Connecting
Venue Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo 3rd floor
Date February 4 (Sat.) to May 6 (Sun.), 2012
Closed days Mondays (Open on April 30) and May 1
Opening hours 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
(Admission is allowed 30 minutes before the closing time)
Organizers Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, The Japan Foundation
Special support Ishibashi Foundation
Cooperation NEC Display Solutions, Ltd.
Admission Adult ¥1.000 (¥800)
College students and seniors (over 65 years old) ¥800 (¥640)
Junior high school students ¥500 (¥400)
Under elementary school students Free
* ( ) shows fees for groups of 20 or more.
* "MOT Collection" is also available with a ticket for this exhibition.
Curators [ Japan ]
Yuko Hasegawa (Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo)
Akio Seki (Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo)

[ U.K. ]
Jonathan Watkins (Director, Ikon Gallery)

[ Spain ]
Lorenza Barboni (Director, Espai d'art contemporani de Castelló)

[ Japanese Executive Committee ]
Mizuho Kato (Visiting Associate Professor, Museum of Osaka University)
Koichi Kawasaki (Chief Curator / Assistant Director, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art)
Yuko Hasegawa (Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo)

Profile: Atsuko Tanaka

Born in Osaka in 1932. After leaving the Kyoto Municipal College of Art in 1951, Tanaka studied at the Art Institute of the Osaka Municipal Museum of Art. On the advice of Akira Kanayama, who was also attending the school, Tanaka developed an interest in abstract painting, and began a series of works using numbers as a motif in about 1954. Around the same time, she began participating in the Zero-kai, a group of young artists attempting to create cutting-edge work that also included Kanayama, Kazuo Shiraga and Saburo Murakami, trying brainstorming sessions with them. Along with Kanayama, Shiraga, and Murakami, Tanaka joined the Jiro Yoshihara-led Gutai Art Association (or Gutai) in 1955. After creating a number of innovative works such as a ten-meter square of pink rayon that floated approximately 30 centimeters above the ground; a group of 20 bells installed in a gallery that rang in succession;Stage Clothes, which consisted of systematically flashing light tubes attached to seven huge human forms with a height of 4.4 meters and a width of 3.6 meters; Electric Dress, a blinking garment that incorporated some 200 colourful light bulbs and tubes; and a performance in which the artist changed clothes in sequence, Tanaka began making paintings that were inspired by tangled light bulbs and electric cords around 1957. The works caught the eye of the French art critic Michel Tapié, who happened to be visiting Japan at the time, and led him to champion Tanaka as one of Gutai members who "should be seen equal to the artists estimated highly in international context." After first being introduced in the West by Tapié, Tanaka showed her work in international exhibitions, received a number of awards, and eventually came to be seen as one of the most important members of Gutai. Leaving the group in 1965, she enthusiastically continued working, staging regular solo exhibitions until 2004.

In the 1980s, with a reappraisal of Gutai well underway, Tanaka was again portrayed as one of the leading members of the group in large-scale exhibitions held both in Japan and abroad that focused on the theme of postwar art, and comprehensive overviews of Gutai. Moreover, in the late '90s, Tanaka was recognized as an independent artist who transcended the historical context of Gutai, and renewed interest in her career was triggered by a retrospective titled Atsuko Tanaka: Search for an Unknown Aesthetic, 1954-2000 that was held at the Ashiya City Museum of Art & History and the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art in 2001. In the midst of this reappraisal, further inspired by full-fledged solo exhibitions in Innsbruck in 2002, New York in 2004, and Vancouver in 2005, Tanaka died in December 2005 as a result of injuries she had suffered in a car accident in March of that year. Selected for inclusion in the large-scale international exhibition Documenta 12 (Kassel, Germany), which along with the Venice Biennale is seen as a prime indicator of trends in contemporary art, Tanaka was also included in the 16th Biennale of Sydney the following year, suggesting that her international standing remains secure even after her death.

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