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Article

Klaus Ottmann

(b Detroit, MI, May 10, 1932; d Cairo, Egypt, June 23, 1997).

American sculptor, performance artist, and installation artist. Byars spent his formative years in Japan (1958–68) where he learnt to appreciate the ephemeral as a valued quality in art and embrace the ceremonial as a continuing mode in his life and work. He adapted the highly sensual, abstract, and symbolic practices found in Japanese Noh theatre and Shinto rituals to Western science, art, and philosophy. One of his most important works of that period is Untitled Object (Runcible) (1962–4), also known as The Performable Square, a 46 cm cube consisting of 1000 sheets of white flax paper that unfold into a 15×15 m white plane divided by 32 parallel strips connected at the top with paper hinges. It was first exhibited, folded, in 1964 at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, in the centre of the museum floor, placed on a sheet of glass, but not ‘performed’ (i.e. unfolded) until 14 years later, in ...

Article

Korean, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1957, in Taegu.

Installation artist, sculptor, performance artist, video artist.

Kim Soo-ja settled in New York. She uses Korean cloth in her work, which she folds, crumples or hangs; for her the fabric has symbolic weight, one tied to the culture of her country. The cloth becomes a metaphorical relation with her body. Rolled in a bundle to form a ...

Article

Sook-Kyung Lee

One of the characteristics of Korean contemporary art is a continuous effort in employing and interpreting international art practices and discourses. Art movements from Europe and North America in particular, including Abstract Expressionism, Art informel, Minimalism, Conceptual art and Post-modernism, have influenced many Korean artists’ styles and ideas since the 1950s, providing formal and conceptual grounds for critical understandings and further experiments. Whilst some artists who maintained traditional art forms such as ink painting and calligraphy exercised modernist styles and abstract forms largely within the norms and conventions of traditional genres, a large group of artists proactively adapted to Western styles, employing new materials and techniques as well as the notions of avant-garde and experimentalism (see fig.).

A major critique of the reception of Western art and aesthetics came from ‘Minjung art’ (People’s Art) in the 1980s as part of instigating a nationalist and politically charged art strategy. Several art historians and critics who emerged in the 1990s also expanded the scope of the debate with postcolonial and pluralist points of view. The shift in social, economic and political environments played an important role in changing sensibilities in art, along with the advances of technology and new media in the 2000s. The high degree of diversity and sophistication of Korean art in terms of media and subject matters became widely acknowledged within and outside the nation, and an increasing number of artists started to work on the cutting edge of international art....

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Active in France from 1962.

Born 23 February 1935, in Osaka; died 1990, in Tokyo.

Sculptor, performance artist.

Tetsumi Kudo graduated from the Tokyo university of fine arts in 1958 and moved to Paris in 1962, becoming one of the main figures in the Objecteurs and Nouveaux Réalistes movements. He then exhibited ...

Article

Yasuyoshi Saito

(b Hyōgo Prefect., Feb 23, 1935; d Tokyo, Nov 12, 1990).

Japanese painter, sculptor, performance artist and teacher, active in Japan and France. In 1958 he graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and in 1961 he exhibited Proliferating Chain Reaction in the Fundamental Body of the X Form (scrubbing brush, rope, iron, 1960; Tokyo, Met. A. Mus.) at the Gendai bijutsu no jikken ten (Exhibition of experiments in modern art) at the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. A year later he left Japan and settled in Paris; in the same year, using numerous phallic objects, he carried out the Impotent Philosophy ceremony (see 1986 exh. cat., p. 352). In 1968 he exhibited Praise of the Younger Generation—The Cocoon Opens (assemblage, 1968; Tokyo, Met. A. Mus.) at the Salon de Mai. In 1969 Kudō returned temporarily to Japan and created a large relief mural at Nokogiriyama, Chiba Prefecture, entitled Monument to Moulting (1969–70). In 1977...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, female.

Active in the USA 1960–1975 (naturalised in 1966).

Born 1929, in Nagano.

Painter, sculptor, installation artist, performance artist.

Yayoi Kusama graduated from the Kyoto school of fine arts in 1949. She moved to New York in 1957, where she enrolled in the Art Students League and became active in anti-war demonstrations and newspaper and film production. Her film ...

Article

Midori Yamamura

(b Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefect., March 22, 1929).

Japanese painter, sculptor, poet, writer, printmaker, installation, and performance artist, active also in the USA.

Growing up under Japan’s World War II totalitarian regime, Kusama believed art could help her nurture a more humane worldview. She began taking private art lessons at the age of 13. Between 1952 and 1955, she had six solo exhibitions. In 1955 Kusama wrote to artists Kenneth Callahan and Georgia O’Keeffe in the United States and Callahan helped organize her first United States solo exhibition in Seattle (1957).

After Seattle, Kusama moved to New York in 1958, where she launched her career alongside the second generation Abstract Expressionists. In 1959 she developed a series of paintings called Infinity Nets; large horizontal works featuring obsessively repeated small arcs. At solo exhibitions in New York (1959, Brata Gallery; 1961, Stephen Radich Gallery), she only showed white, wall-sized works from the series. Appearing void from a distance, her huge paintings forced viewers to come closer, disallowing their objectification, while permitting each viewer an intimate experience. These works made a strong impression on the New York scene, with Frank Stella and a future Minimalist Donald Judd buying her works....

Article

Korean, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1964, in Yongwol.

Sculptor, installation artist, performance artist, draughtswoman.

Lee Bul graduated from Hong-Ik University in Seoul with a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture. She settled in Seoul. Lee seeks to explore feminine archetypes by creating a universe inhabited by monsters and imaginary creatures based on Korean legends and contemporary technology (notably cyborgs), or manga imagery. She has also used her own nude body in her performances. Whether making unliveable, solitary cubicles - as in her karaoke pods - or strolling about in one or other of her outlandish costumes, she tries to destabilise established values through her objects and creatures. For instance, in her sculpture ...

Article

Chinese, 20th century, male.

Born 1964, in Guangzhou.

Sculptor, performance artist.

Big Tail Elephant Group.

Lin Yilin studied sculpture at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art (1983–1987). He is a performance artist who involves spectators in his performances, inviting them to smash bricks. He also exhibits geometric sculpture, which he makes with bricks on metal frames. He is part of the Big Tail Elephant Group, which first had an exhibit at the Second Worker’s Cultural Palace, Guangzhou, in ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant

revised by Jennifer Way

(b Tokyo, Feb 21, 1967).

Japanese photographer, video artist, performance artist, sculptor, installation artist and painter. Mori studied fashion at the Bunka Fashion Institute in Tokyo from 1986 to 1988 and worked part-time as a model before moving to London to study at the Shaw School of Art (1988–9) and the Chelsea College of Art (1989–92), where she earned a BFA. In New York she participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1992–3). In 1994 Mori returned to Tokyo and began making large digital photographs and videos in which she appears as a ‘shaman, mermaid, cyber-geisha and visitor from the future’ (Johnson, p. 56). Subsequently, she assembled teams of stylists, photographers, computer imagists, sound technicians and fabricators along with musicians and scientists to create immersive multimedia installations consisting of digital photography, music, video, cinematic spatial effects, abstract biomorphic sculptural forms, paintings and scent, engaging users and responding to data and environmental stimuli. She exhibited her art in biennale exhibitions throughout the world, for example, in Singapore, Venice, Shanghai, Sydney, Kwangju, Istanbul and Lyon. From ...