Atsuko Tanaka. Untitled. 1964

Atsuko Tanaka Untitled 1964

  • MoMA, Floor 4, 408 The David Geffen Wing

In 1956, Tanaka performed wearing Electric Dress, a sculpture made from two hundred blinking incandescent lightbulbs and tubes covered with red, blue, yellow, and green enamel paint. The concentric circles and circuitous lines of this painting were directly inspired by that performance: it brims with energy, a vivid record of the artist’s gestural application of layers and skeins of multicolored acrylic paint on a sheet of canvas on the floor. Tanaka was a member of Gutai, a group of Japanese artists active between 1954 and 1972. The group’s name means “embodiment” or “concrete,” which refers to their aim of bringing materials together with the body and physical actions.

Gallery label from 2020.
Additional text

The colorful concentric circles and circuitous lines that compose this painting evolved from Tanaka's performance Electric Dress, premiered a decade before, in which she wore two hundred blinking incandescent lightbulbs and tubes covered with red, blue, yellow, and green enamel paint. The painting vividly records the artist's gestural application of layers and skeins of multicolored acrylic paint on the canvas as it lay on the floor. Such a performative practice was typical of members of Gutai, a group of Japanese artists (including Tanaka) active between 1954 and 1972. Gutai means "embodiment" or "concrete"; through their experimental works, these artists aimed to bring materials together with the human spirit.

Gallery label from What is Painting? Contemporary Art from the Collection, July 7–September 17, 2007 .

In this work, glowing orbs filled with frenzied strokes of color are connected by an imperfect grid of sinuous lines. These elements are reminiscent of the two hundred blinking light bulbs and tubes covered with colorful paint connected by a trail of wires that the artist used in her performance Electric Dress, also produced in 1956. Tanaka was a member of Gutai, a group of Japanese artists active between 1954 and 1972 who aimed to bring materials together with the human spirit in their performative works.

Gallery label from Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, April 19 - August 13, 2017.
Medium
Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions
10' 11 1/4" x 7' 4 3/4" (333.4 x 225.4 cm)
Credit
John G. Powers Fund
Object number
612.1965
Copyright
© 2021 Ryoji Ito
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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