Collection 1940s–1970s

Atsuko Tanaka. Untitled. 1964

Acrylic on canvas, 10' 11 1/4" x 7' 4 3/4" (333.4 x 225.4 cm). John G. Powers Fund. © 2021 Ryoji Ito

Professor, Midori Yamamura: My name is Midori Yamamura. We are looking at Atsuko Tanaka's Untitled from 1964.

Tanaka started creating these circular paintings when she created what is called Electric Dress. It's a dress made out of light bulbs all in different colors and they blink in certain durations. In 1957, she showed her electric dress on stage. And after this, she said, "I have since painted circles and lines based on the wiring diagram of the electric dress." Here Tanaka is incorporating duration of the blinking light bulbs in this painting, and then connecting them with electric circuit cords. I think she is trying to give form to time and speed.

The Gutai Art Association formed in 1954. Tanaka joined in 1955. Some of the Gutai artists had very unique ways of expressing themselves, such as painting with their feet or painting with the robot. And most of the artists had experienced the war, and Japan's militaristic, totalitarian regime, which had forced people to conform. So a lot of artists during this time were trying to create something that never existed before.

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