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Midori Yoshimoto


(b Norwalk, CA, Jan 24, 1926; d San Francisco, CA, Aug 5, 2013).

American sculptor, painter and draftsman. Asawa was born the fourth of seven children to Japanese immigrants and her childhood on a thriving truck farm formed her work ethic. During World War II, the Asawas were separated into different internment camps. At the Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas, Ruth was able to learn drawing from interned Japanese–American illustrators. In 1943 a scholarship allowed her to leave the camp to study at Milwaukee State Teachers College. However, when she realized that she could never find a teaching position in Wisconsin because of her Japanese ancestry, she headed to Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1946. The Black Mountain College community, including illustrious teachers such as Albers family, §1 and R(ichard) Buckminster Fuller, nurtured Asawa’s artistic foundation and philosophy. There she started on looped-wire sculpture after discovering the basket crocheting technique in Mexico in 1947. Upon graduation, she married her classmate, the architect Albert Lanier (...


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 ...


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....


Derrick R. Cartwright

(b Shanghai, China, Sept 18, 1933).

American sculptor of Italian and French parentage. He spent his early childhood in the Far East, before his family moved to San Francisco, CA, in 1941. He entered San Francisco City College in 1953 and attended the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1954 to 1955, completing his BA in Philosophy at Berkeley in 1956. It was during these years that he first took seriously his interest in art, and studied sculpture primarily. Moving to New York in 1957, he became aware of the work of the Abstract Expressionists and the associated sculpture of David Smith. A work-related accident in 1960 left his legs and spine permanently impaired and confined him to a wheelchair for nearly two years. Subsequently, the scale of his work shifted dramatically from smaller, ruggedly Expressionistic pieces in cast bronze and unhewn wood to monumental constructions in steel. The resultant sculpture necessarily exceeded the limits of museum and gallery walls, as did his aspiration for its exhibition. His favourite materials became synonymous with those of the modern construction industry: I-Beams, steel cables, wooden ties and scrap metal were used in di Suvero’s work of the mid-1960s....


John-Paul Stonard

(b Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture, May 25, 1951).

Japanese sculptor. He studied at Tokyo University of Art and Design (1971–5) and Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (1975–7). In 1986 he was awarded a one-year scholarship, from the Bureau of Cultural Properties, to live and work in London. He represented Japan at the 1988 Venice Biennale. Funakoshi’s figurative wooden sculptures refer to both Japanese and European carving techniques and iconography. He began using camphor wood in 1977 chiefly for its organic associations, warmth and colouring, which he likened to Japanese skin pigmentation. His elongated bust-length figures, cut off beneath the elbows and navel, as well as full-length standing figures, have an atmosphere of expressionless restraint. He once described their metaphoric function in the following terms: ‘If I am able to see the world clearly by looking within myself, then I can make a statement concerning human existence through the depiction of a single person’ (exh. cat. ...


Mia Yinxing Liu

(b Harbin, 1957).

Chinese painter, sculptor, and installation artist. Wang Guangyi’s formal education was interrupted by the Cultural Revolution during his teenage years. Afterwards, he attended the China Academy of Art (Zhejiang) and graduated in 1984 with a degree in oil painting.

In the wake of the avant-garde art movement in China in the 1980s, Wang became part of the Northern Art Group and produced a series of paintings whose subjects reflected skepticism towards the philosophies and themes of classical art in the West. The series used a cold, gray palette to illustrate frozen and barren Nordic settings consciously removed from emotion, revealing Wang’s distrust of passion and his faith in reason and rationality at the time, a distrust that was an antidote to the cultic zeal towards Mao and the ideals of revolution in the preceding years.

Wang’s groundbreaking series of Mao portraits in 1988 were a continuation of the conscious move away from emotional manipulation and viewer identification. In these portraits, Wang superimposed a grid over Mao. The grid served as a barrier between the adorer and the object of adoration, drawing attention to the print material of the image, and highlighting Mao as an object of common household use. If in previous decades Mao’s portraits had been used as an icon for fervent adoration and incentive for socialist construction, here in Wang’s paintings the Mao portraits were candidly presented as ready-made and found objects. However, these appropriated Mao pictures were quite ambivalent in meaning. To Wang, they were not an indictment against socialism or Mao, but rather a reaffirmation of the Dadaist spirit of the Cultural Revolution....


Yasuyoshi Saito

(b Asakuma-mura, Mie Prefect., Oct 17, 1897; d Asakuma-mura, Nov 1, 1935).

Japanese sculptor. He went to Tokyo in 1919 and the following year became a pupil of Chōzan Satō (1888–1963), a member of the Japan Art Institute; he lived with the Satō household for six years. In 1922 Hashimoto’s sculpture Cat (wood, h. 350 mm, 1922; Tsu, Mie Prefect. A. Mus.) was accepted for the ninth In-ten exhibition. In 1923 he left Tokyo because of the Great Kantō earthquake and went to live in Nara. In 1926 he returned to his home town in Mie, settling there permanently. In 1927 he exhibited his statue of a Naked Youth (wood, h. 1.54 m, 1927; Tokyo U. A., A. Mus.) at the 14th In-ten exhibition, a work reminiscent of ancient Egyptian sculpture. In the same year he became a member of the Japan Art Institute. In 1930 he exhibited Goddess Playing in a Flower Garden (wood, h. 1.22 m, 1930; Tokyo U. A., A. Mus.) at the 17th In-ten exhibition, a characteristic work: the entire body of the goddess was carved so that the head, torso, arms and legs are like flower petals, and within this, the image of a butterfly can be seen; although representing a young female, the body seems genderless, and her facial expression is reminiscent of Buddhist sculptures. In his later years Hashimoto was deeply impressed by a 17th-century Buddhist statue that he saw in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture; this was done by the monk Enkū. Under Enkū’s influence he produced wooden sculptures with the sharp chisel marks still visible, such as that of the Buddhist monk ...


Yasuyoshi Saito

(b Kyoto, March 27, 1911; d Tokyo, April 13, 2001).

Japanese sculptor. He experimented with Constructivist sculpture in 1927 under the influence of such avant-garde sculptors as Tomoyoshi Murayama (1901–77). In 1928 he entered the sculpture department of the Higher Technical College in Tokyo; in 1929 he was accepted into the Nika-Ten exhibition and left college. At the Nikakai (Second Division Association) he studied under sculptor Yūzō Fujikawa (1883–1935). During World War II he stopped sculpting and learnt French and Latin. In 1950 he became a professor at the City College of Art in Kyoto, holding the post until 1974. From 1954 he began making sculptures from welded steel, creating such works as Five Squares and Five Rectangles (steel, 770 mm, 1955; Tokyo, Met. A. Mus.). In 1957 he exhibited in the fourth São Paulo Biennale. In 1963 he was awarded the sixth Takamura Kōtarō prize. In the same year an exhibition of his work was held at the Museum of Modern Art in Kamakura. In ...


Norihisa Mizuta

[Senro; Bokusen; Usen; Tansō; Kyūsetsu Jōjin; Chigen Dojin]

(b Kyoto, 1871; d Tokyo, March 10, 1945).

Japanese seal-carver, scholar and connoisseur. He was the son of Kawai Sen’emon, a Kyoto seal-engraver. He studied Chinese classics with Hayashi Sōkyō and became the pupil of Shinoda Kaishin (1827–1902), who followed the style of seals used by painters of the Chinese Zhe school in the 15th and 16th centuries; in this genre Senro showed exceptional ability. In 1900 Senro went to China, where he studied under Wu Changshi, with whom he had previously corresponded. Under Wu he learnt modern carving techniques. After returning to Japan and passing his family name to a pupil, he went to live in Tokyo at the invitation of the patron Mitsui Teihiyō [Takakata] (1867–1945). Subsequently he visited China almost every year and concentrated on importing and studying Qing period (1644–1911) calligraphy, painting and culture. With the calligrapher and scholar Chikuzan Takada (1861–1946) he founded the Society for the Study of Calligraphy for Seals (...


Mitsuhiko Hasebe


(b Kyoto, March 23, 1883; d Kanagawa, Dec 21, 1959).

Japanese potter, calligrapher and medallist. At an early age he taught himself seal-carving and calligraphy, for which he won a prize in 1904; soon after he became a commercial calligrapher and medallist. In 1915 he had his first experience of decorating pottery at a kiln in the district of Hokuriku. In 1919 he opened an art shop in Tokyo, and in 1920 he founded the Gourmet’s Club on the second floor of the store, serving food in traditional ceramic vessels that he had himself collected. Kitaōji soon began to produce his own pottery, creating forms drawn from studying the vessels that he used for his cuisine. In 1925 he opened the Gourmet’s Club Hoshigaoka Restaurant in Tokyo. In 1926 he established a studio and kiln known as Hoshigaokayō in Kita Kamakura. He often surpassed the classical forms on which his works were based, becoming well known for his simple but original designs. He used red enamels and gold in his work and was influenced by blue-and-white wares and coloured porcelain from the Ming period (...


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....


Ann Barrott Wicks

[Ding Shaoguang]

(b Hanzhong, Chenggu County, Shaanxi Province, Oct 7, 1939).

Chinese painter and sculptor. The son of Ding Junsheng (b 1903), a Guomindang Parliament member exiled in Taiwan, Ting lived in significantly reduced circumstances with his maternal grandparents and three older siblings in Beijing. In 1955 he joined the first class of an affiliate high school for gifted students established by the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Hoping to escape that institution’s growing emphasis on politically correct art, after secondary school he entered the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts, where he studied with Zhang Guangyu (1900–1965), Pang Xunqin (1906–1983), Zhang Ding (b 1917) and Yuan Yunfu (b1932). Upon graduation he requested work in Yunnan Province, preferring a remote and somewhat exotic location to the politically active environment of Beijing. He was assigned to teach at the Yunnan Art Institute in Kunming.

Ting lived in Kunming from 1962 until his emigration to the USA in ...


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...


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....


Van Lau  

Mayching Kao

[Wen Lou]

(b Xinhui County, Guangdong Province, Sept 15, 1933).

Chinese sculptor and printmaker, active in Hong Kong. Van moved with his family to Vietnam in 1935 and studied architecture and fine arts in Taiwan from 1953 to 1958; in 1960 he settled in Hong Kong. He became an influential figure in the local arts scene, not only assuming a leading role as a sculptor of the modern school, but also active in arts administration, publishing, design, education and politics. In the 1960s, inspired by contemporary international movements, Van experimented in different styles and media. He subsequently returned to his native tradition for imagery and aesthetic concepts, though retaining a Western approach in formal organization. Thereafter, his focus has been metal sculpture in geometric formations suggesting vitality and organic growth. His fascination with movement, particularly flight, inspired his Space Form (Hong Kong, Space Mus.), completed in 1980, followed by numerous public commissions.

Wen Lou/The Art of Van Lau (exh. cat., intro. ...


Jeremy Lewison

(b Hartford, CT, Sept 9, 1928; d New York, NY, April 8, 2007).

American sculptor, printmaker, and draughtsman. He studied at Syracuse University, NY, from 1945 to 1949, and between 1951 and 1952 he served in the US Army in Japan and Korea, where he was able to visit oriental shrines, temples, and gardens. In 1953 he moved to New York, where he attended the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. From 1955 to 1956 he worked as a graphic designer for the architect I. M. Pei, and he began to make paintings while continuing to work as a graphic designer. He abandoned painting in 1962 and began to make abstract black-and-white reliefs, followed in 1963 by relief constructions with nested enclosures projecting into space, and box- and table-like constructions. He first made the serial and modular works for which he is best known in 1965, an idea inspired in part by the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge. Initially these were wall and floor structures, but in ...


Catherine M. Grant

(b Singapore, Feb 16, 1936; d London, Oct 23, 1997).

British sculptor and printmaker of Chinese birth. She grew up in Singapore and at the age of 18 decided to go to London to study at Saint Martin’s School of Art (1954–6) where she took a particular interest in wood-carving; she then transferred to the Slade School of Art, where she concentrated on printmaking, graduating in 1960. Whilst at college she often travelled through Asia and Europe en route back to Singapore, with Indian and South-East Asian sculpture and spirituality making a great impact on her work. An early sculpture, King, Queen, Pawn (1959; see 1999 exh. cat., pp. 12), consists of three simply shaped wooden blocks, with sections blowtorched to give a variation of colour. Whilst Lim always acknowledged a debt to the work of Constantin Brancusi in her simplification and abstraction of forms, it is in her concern for the specific qualties of materials, as in her use of charred wood to create contrast, that the influence of Eastern spirituality and concepts of balance can be seen. In ...


Yasuyoshi Saito

(b Tokyo, Dec 18, 1937; d Kyoto, Feb 15, 1978).

Japanese sculptor. After finishing junior high school, he entered a barbers’ school in Tokyo. As an artist he was self-taught. From 1957 until 1963 he exhibited at the Yomiuri Independent Exhibitions. His works from this period have a strong anti-art element and are composed of such things as lorry tyres or smashed beer and whisky bottles. During this time he was also active in the avant-garde group Neo-Dadaism Organizers, although he was not actually a member. In 1963 he held a one-man show at the Naika Art Gallery, Tokyo, in which he exhibited a sculpture of an ear made from aluminium alloy. After this he continued to use the human ear as his motif, creating a sculpture of a giant ear taller than a human being and a relief composed of a collection of dozens of small ears. In 1964 he received a prize at the sixth Gendai Nihon Bijutsu Ten (Contemporary Art Exhibition of Japan). In ...


Mayching Kao

[Ju MingZhu Ming]

(b Miaoli, Taiwan, Jan 20, 1938).

Chinese sculptor and painter. Trained as a wood-carver in the folk tradition of religious and historical images, Chu acquired a technical proficiency unmatched by the average art-school graduate. The key figure in his transition from craftsman to artist was the eminent sculptor Yang Ying-feng (b 1906), who was Chu’s teacher from 1968 to 1976. Yang nurtured Chu’s talent for wood-carving and showed him how to simplify his forms and to intensify spiritual expression. Chu reached artistic maturity with his meditative series of taiji (shadow-boxing) figures dating from the mid-1970s onwards. His semi-abstract forms, their expressiveness heightened by the spontaneous wielding of the carving knife and the natural grains of the wood, capture the essential strength and movement of taiji. In his subsequent Living World series Chu explored the hustle and bustle of human existence. He also experimented with materials other than wood, including bronze, ceramics and Styrofoam. Chu Ming rose to prominence at the height of the ...


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 ...