Kumi Sugaï Kabuki 1958

  • MoMA, Floor 4, 404 The David Geffen Galleries

Sugaï covers this large canvas with sweeping brushstrokes, forming shapes that evoke the costumed figures of Kabuki theater, a traditional Japanese art form. The artist had been living in Paris for six years when he made this work, which he considered to be “purely personal” as opposed to “simply ‘abstract.’” His gestural brushwork suggests calligraphic script. Rather than writing something, he instead emphasizes the act of painting and its materials: the dry bristle marks trace his movements, and the gold paint adds flares of color to a mostly black image.

Gallery label from 2023
Oil on canvas
57 1/2 x 44 5/8" (145.8 x 113.3 cm)
Object number
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].