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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

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in France since 1970.

Born 1948, in China.

Sculptor, installation artist.

After living in Hong Kong from 1962 to 1970, Chan moved to Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. He has taken part in many Salons and group exhibitions in Paris, notably the Salon de Mai, the Salon de Jeune Sculpture, and the MAC ...

Article

Mary M. Tinti

(b Houston, TX, 1951).

American sculptor, installation and conceptual artist. His multimedia works investigate the pathology of contemporary culture. Mel Chin was born and raised in Houston, Texas to parents of Chinese birth and received his BA in 1975 from the Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. The works in Chin’s oeuvre are diverse in both medium and subject, but a consistent undercurrent of social, political, and environmental responsibility runs throughout. Whether a sculpture, film, video game, installation, public project or earthwork, Chin’s artworks consistently targeted a broad spectrum of pressing cultural and ecological interests and spread their message in subtle, if not viral ways.

In the 1980s, Chin produced a number of sculptures that set the stage for his ever-evocative artistic journey. The Extraction of Plenty from What Remains: 1823 (1988–9) is a frequently referenced piece from this period. It is a symbolic encapsulation of the effects of the Monroe Doctrine, referencing the complicated dealings between the US (represented by truncated replicas of White House columns) and Central America (represented by a cornucopia of mahogany branches, woven banana-tree fiber, and a surface layer of hardened blood, mud, and coffee grinds). From the 1990s, however, Chin moved away from strictly gallery-based installations and began creating works that directly engaged contemporary culture in a variety of physical and theoretical landscapes....

Article

Japanese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in the USA.

Born 1955.

Assemblage sculptor.

Kenji Fujita constructs monumental assemblages out of various objects, which, while remaining abstract, still refer to reality.

New York, 2 May 1991: Elephant’s Ear (1988, mural sculpture, acrylic on wood, galvanised tin, moulded plastic and rubber piping...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 1898, in Tomioka (Gumma); died 16 October 1992, in Tokyo.

Painter, collage artist, sculptor.

Fukuzawa Ichiro went to Tokyo University in 1918 to study literature, aesthetics and art history. Between 1918 and 1919, he studied sculpture under Asukura Fumio. In ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1962, in Beijing.

Painter, sculptor, mixed-media installation artist, animation artist.

Gu Dexin is a self-taught artist and co-founder of the New Mark Group (later became the Analysis Group) in the late 1980s. This group, working collaboratively, is more interested in questioning the importance of concepts, language, and authorship, such as ...

Article

Japanese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 14 March 1953, in Kurume (Fukuoka).

Sculptor, installation artist.

After studying at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Hirakawa Shigeko was awarded a scholarship by the French government. She settled in Paris in 1983, where she studied at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Olivier Debré’s studio ...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 1940, in Kobe.

Painter, sculptor of assemblages. Multimedia.

Conceptual Art.

Kawaguchi studied at the Tama School of Fine Art in Tokyo, graduating in 1962. He teaches at the University of Akashi. Kawaguchi’s interest in conceptual art appeared early in his career. Since then, he has used the new media of light, video, photography and film. He creates assemblages of markers arranged in a space, some of which can be electronically stimulated. Interested in making his art available outside normal gallery and museum spaces, he has produced two works for Japanese high schools: ...

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

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 1944, in Ehime Prefecture.

Assemblage sculptor, installation artist.

Mono-ha (school of things).

Koshimizu Susumu studied sculpture at Tama Art School, Tokyo. He worked in wood, a traditional material in Japanese art. He achieved notice in 1971, with his From Surface to Surface...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Active in France from 1970.

Born 4 October 1944, in Kyoto.

Painter (including gouache), engraver, draughtsman, sculptor, installation artist. Figures. Stage sets.

Akihiko Kuroda studied art history but then abandoned painting until 1974. In 1985 he founded the magazine Noise. He lives and works in Paris. His work is very free, born out of spontaneity; his forms seem to spring to life from his line. Influenced by Chinese calligraphy, his early works have delicate graffiti or stabbing signs against dark backgrounds. He works with great economy of means, creating incisive figures and frozen silhouettes that stand out against monochrome backgrounds. He usually uses lively colours in flat areas outlined in black or white. When working in other media, his attitude to the painted surface is always restless, making it silent or complex by turns. In some of his more recent work in black and grey, the ‘nothingness of space’ contains points, dots, curves, lines, brushstrokes, vortices of matter, geometric forms tossed casually down. Primarily a painter, Kuroda has also produced a large number of posters and book covers, notably for ...

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

Korean, 20th century, male.

Active in Japan from 1956.

Born 1936, in Kyongnam Hamangun, South Korea.

Painter, installation artist, sculptor.

Mono-ha (school of things).

U Fan Lee studied at Seoul university but interrupted his studies and moved to Japan, where he studied philosophy at Nihon university. He is a professor at Tama art university. Lee started with monochrome paintings before moving on to sculptural works when he joined Mono-ha, the Japanese Post-Minimalist movement. He makes installations combining natural elements such as cotton and stone with industrial materials such as galvanized steel sheets, rails and so on. Whether it be a porch or a door, the installation entices the viewer into the heart of the work, creating an open space. After his venture into Minimalism, Lee returned to more traditional forms, marking his canvases with dabs of paint, parallel lines, points and squares. Using the lightest of touches, he applies marks until their blacks and whites vanish among the surface grey of the picture. He combines traditional Chinese and Korean techniques with contemporary research. He describes his process thus: ‘Breathing regularly and feeling the rhythm of my body, I place my brush on the canvas anywhere at random. I then tend to move the picture where balance requires. Another position, just as inevitable as this, then follows, and the tense scene takes shape, just as in a game of Go.’...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1957, in Guangzhou.

Installation artist, sculptor.

Liang Juhui teaches at Guangzhou art academy. He belongs to the Long-Tailed Elephant Group , a set of artists who since 1990 have been critical of the Chinese government’s movement towards capitalism. He makes aerial sculptures in vivid colours....

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Tokyo, Jan 16, 1957).

Japanese sculptor and installation artist. He finished undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1986 and came to prominence in the late 1980s with installations of digital counters in the form of light-emitting diodes. He made his first counter in 1988 and subsequently retained this form as his basic building block: a large, two-digit red display, it continually counts from 1 to 99, never reaching 100 or registering zero. Often he wired together several counters together so that they triggered each other at various points; he called these groups ‘Regions’ and saw them as representing a symbolic universe. In the first half of the 1990s he produced work as part of his 133651 series: ranging from small groupings of counters to large, complex installations, each work consisted of a row of ten two-digit counters with up to five wired together. Such a unit allows a total of 133,651 combinations to appear, hence the title. The project ...

Article

Japanese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in New York.

Born 1967, in Tokyo.

Sculptor, photographer, video artist.

Mariko Mori first studied fashion design in Japan before working as a model during the late 1980s. She then went on to study in London at the Byam Shaw School of Art and Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. 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 ...

Article

Karen M. Fraser

(b Hyogo Prefecture, 1945).

Japanese photographer, sculptor, and conceptual artist. He studied at Kyoto City University of Fine Arts, where he earned a BFA in 1967 and an MFA in 1969. Nomura was initially trained as a sculptor. In his MFA thesis project, Tardiology (1969), Nomura explored the idea of non-permanent sculptural form, creating an eight-metre tall cardboard sculpture and then using photographs to record the changes in form as the boxes gradually collapsed under their own weight. From that point on photography was one of his primary media. Nomura was interested in investigating processes of scientific and natural phenomena with a particular focus on the passage of time. He used photographs to capture movement and changes over time and to make previously unseen things visible. Many of his projects were created over lengthy periods, with photographs being taken daily or monthly and for years. In his 1991 Analemma series (The Analemma ’91-Noon...