new-york

Atsuko Tanaka

New York University Grey Art Gallery/Paula Cooper Gallery

“Make it new” was the mandate of Gutaï, a pioneering collective in postwar Japan. The dictum was realized emphatically in many of the group’s performance works, such as Kazuo Shiraga’s Challenge to the Mud, 1955, in which the artist writhed in a pile of slop, creating a constantly shifting live informe sculpture that made Pollock’s rhythmic pouring and dripping seem positively genteel. In another radical act, Atsuko Tanaka donned a potentially dangerous costume of tangled cords and brightly painted incandescent bulbs that lit up with the flick of a switch. Like Shiraga’s mud encounter, Electric Dress, 1956, has become an emblem of Gutaï ’s performative spirit and a successful manifestation of their desire to unify body and material. Gutaï officially disbanded in 1972, but many members, including Tanaka (one of the few women in the group), continued to work. Now seventy-two years old and

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