Tokyo 1955 - 1970


Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde

Tokyo lay in ruins in August 1945, when the Allied Powers entered Japan at the end of World War II. Under their occupation, which lasted until early 1952, the formerly militarist, imperial nation was transformed into a pacifist democracy, poised to become an economic powerhouse. In 1956, barely more than a decade after the war, the government announced that the postwar era was over.

Beginning at that historical threshold, this exhibition covers a crucial decade and a half of artistic and cultural efflorescence in Tokyo. Artists working in the city reckoned with still-fresh memories of war and devastation, ongoing political turmoil, and great social and cultural changes. Their works are often characterized by a profusion of transmuting figurative forms, the use of the artists’ own bodies, and a vigorous engagement with the exploding world of popular imagery and the detritus of industry and consumerism. Cross-genre and intermedia experiments also thrived.

Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde provides a focused look at the extraordinary concentration of creative individuals and practices in the dynamic city during those turbulent years. Featuring works in various mediums and disciplines, the exhibition offers a story of artistic crossings, collaborations, and conflicts, with the city as an incubator, introducing the myriad avant-garde experiments that emerged as artists drew on the energy of the rapidly growing and changing metropolis.



Organized by Doryun Chong, Associate Curator, with Nancy Lim, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibition is co-organized and supported by the Japan Foundation.

The exhibition is made possible by UNIQLO.

Additional support is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, David Teiger, Chris A. Wachenheim, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Shiseido, ITOCHU International Inc., and The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art.

Special thanks to JAPAN AIRLINES.


Design and Development by LUST (


Curatorial direction and text
Department of Paintings and Sculpture

Doryun Chong, Associate Curator
Nancy Lim, Curatorial Assistant

Design Management
Department of Digital Media

Allegra Burnette, Creative Director

Project Management
Chiara Bernasconi, Project Manager

David Hart, Media Producer

Special thanks to Sara Dayton, Freelancer, and Suzana Greene.

Editorial Department of Marketing and Communications
Jason Persse, Editorial Manager

Tokyo 1955 - 1970
Tokyo 1955 - 1970
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    Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde / From the mid-1950s through the 1960s, Tokyo transformed itself from the capital of a war-torn nation into an international center for arts, culture, and commerce, becoming home to some of the most important art being made at the time.