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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 ...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1933, in Tokyo.

Painter, sculptor, performance artist.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus.

After settling in New York, Yoko Ono initially took an active role in the Fluxus group, organising concerts (particularly of La Monte Young) and putting up artists from the group (George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, George Segal). After marrying the singer John Lennon of the Beatles, she broke off from her own activities as an artist and took part in demonstrations for peace and for the emancipation of women. Following the assassination of her husband, she returned to her work as an artist....

Article

Mick Hartney

(b Seoul, July 20, 1932; d Miami, Jan 29, 2006).

South Korean video artist, performance artist, musician, sculptor, film maker, writer, and teacher, active in Germany and the USA (see fig.). From 1952 to 1956 he studied music and aesthetics at the University of Tokyo. In 1956 he moved to the Federal Republic of Germany: he studied music at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, and worked with the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen at Darmstadt, before joining Fluxus, with whom he made performance art, experimental music, and ‘anti-films’ (e.g. the imageless Zen for Film, 1962). His Neo-Dada performances in Cologne during this period included a celebrated encounter with John Cage, during which he formed a lasting friendship with the avant-garde composer by cutting off his tie. Inspired by Cage’s ‘prepared piano’, in which the timbre of each note was altered by inserting various objects between the strings, Paik’s experiments from 1959 with television sets, in which the broadcast image was modified by magnets, culminated in his seminal exhibition ...

Article

Norihisa Mizuta

[Xin yue; Shōun]

(b Puyang, nr Hangzhou, Zhejiang Prov., 1639; d Mito, Ibaragi Prefect., 1695).

Chinese Zen monk, seal-carver, calligrapher, poet and Musician, active in Japan. He left his family at the age of seven and entered the Buddhist order, first training in Jiangxi Province and eventually in Hangzhou. In 1677 he emigrated to Japan, at the invitation of the monk Chin’i Dōryō of Kōfukuji, an Obaku-sect Zen temple in Nagasaki. He took up missionary work but found himself at odds with Ōbaku monks and for a short time was held in temple confinement. In 1681 the daimyo of Mito, Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628–1700), hearing of this situation, invited Shin’etsu to his fiefdom, where in 1692 he became founding abbot of Mitsukuni’s temple, Jushōzan Gionji (formerly Tentokuji) in Mito, later the place of his burial. Shin’etsu’s school of Buddhism is known as the Jushō or Shin’etsu school of Sōtō Zen.

Shin’etsu is best known as an artist and true literatus. Together with Dokuryū Shōeki...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 19 February 1944, in Morioka (Iwate).

Sculptor, installation artist, performance artist, video artist.

Mono-ha (school of things).

Suga Kishio trained at the Tama Art College in Tokyo, graduating in 1968. He subsequently trained under Saito. He visited parts of Europe, particularly France, in ...

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(b Tokyo, April 5, 1967).

Japanese sculptor, installation and video artist . Torimitsu received a BFA in sculpture at Tama Art University (1994) and, soon after her university graduation, she completed Miyata Jiro, a life-size robot of a stereotypical Japanese businessman, and made it crawl on the pavements of various districts in Tokyo. Perhaps because of its candid critique of Japanese corporate culture, businessmen in Marunouchi district pretended not to look at the robot, while it attracted large crowds elsewhere. In order to study varying reactions to her robot in different social settings, Torimitsu moved to New York in 1996, to participate in the P.S.1 International Program. For the American premier of Miyata Jiro that year, on Wall Street and near the Rockefeller Center, Torimitsu dressed as a nurse to redirect the robot’s movement or recharge its battery. Her New York performances were so well received that Torimitsu subsequently acquired opportunities to do the same in Amsterdam, Graz, London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney....

Article

Andrew Cross

English sculptors, video artists and performance artists. John Wood (b Hong Kong, 18 June 1969) and Paul Harrison (b Wolverhampton, 30 November 1966) both graduated as painters from Bath College of Higher Education and began working together in 1993. Their collaborative video works involve both artists performing bizarre but very simple actions. While referencing the early videos and performances of Bruce Nauman or Charles Ray, the humour and irony of their work is more reminiscent of British television comedy of the 1960s and 1970s. In 3 legged (1996; see D. Batchelor and C. Esche) the two protagonists are seen tied together at the ankle and confined within a simple wooden shelter while an automatic tennis server shoots balls at them; the two tussle in idiotic fashion while trying to avoid each ball. All their collaborative works examine their intimate physical collaboration or their relationship to a particular physical environment. ...