PRINT January 2013

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“Gutai: Splendid Playground”

Saburō Murakami, Passing Through, 1956. Performance view, Ohara Kaikan, Tokyo, ca. October 11–17, 1956. From “2nd Gutai Art Exhibition,” 1956. Photo: Ōtsuji Kiyoji.


Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

February 15–May 8

Curated by Ming Tiampo and Alexandra Munroe

FOR THE GROUP that officially called itself the Gutai Art Association, being one step ahead was always something of a fine art. Founded in 1954 by Jirō Yoshihara, a painter who urged his younger colleagues to “create things that have never been done before,” the Gutai group, until its dissolution after Yoshihara’s death in 1972, produced an extraordinary range of works encompassing performances, paintings, sculptures, outdoor installations, experimental films, and even wearables (as vividly exemplified by Atsuko Tanaka’s iconic Electric Dress, 1956/1986). And though they were based in the sleepy hamlet of Ashiya, well outside the bounds of the Tokyo art establishment, Gutai never lost sight of other nations’ artistic developments, becoming the first

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