Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction

Atsuko Tanaka. Untitled. 1956 499

Crayon, watercolor, and felt-tip pen on paper, 42 7/8 x 30 3/8" (108.9 x 77.2 cm). Purchased with funds provided by the Edward John Noble Foundation, Frances Keech Fund, and Committee on Drawings Funds. © 2021 Ryoji Ito

Sarah Suzuki: This work is by the Japanese artist Atsuko Tanaka. She was trained as a figurative painter, in Osaka. And in 1955, she joined Gutai. Gutai was a group of artists who all had really interesting ideas about pushing art forward. And a lot of the work had to do with action as art.

Glenn Lowry: In 1956, when she was 24 years old, she designed The Electric Dress as part of a performance.

Sarah Suzuki: The Electric Dress was just what it sounds like. It was this cone-shaped dress that was covered in wired circuits, and colored light bulbs.

There was something about that work that I think stayed with her for the rest of her life. She became essentially, obsessed with the painting of these circles, and these circuitry grids.

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