Edited by Alexandra Munroe and Ming Tiampo with contributions by Munroe, Tiampo, Pedro Erber, Lyn Hsieh, Nakajima Izumi, Katō Mizuho, Judith Rodenbeck, Hirai Shōichi, Reiko Tomii, and Midori Yoshimoto
The Gutai Art Association (active 1954–72) was the most influential artistic collective in postwar Japan and among the most important international avant-garde movements of the 1950s and ’60s. Founded by Yoshihara Jirō in Ashiya, near Osaka, the group spanned two generations, totaling 59 artists over its 18-year history. Against the backdrop of Japan’s World War II militarism and defeat, the American Occupation, and Japan’s postwar reconstruction as a democratic state on the world stage, Gutai’s radical experiments broke through borders between painting and performance, object and process, and between art, the ordinary public, and everyday life. Gutai: Splendid Playground demonstrates Gutai’s range of bold and innovative creativity; examines its aesthetic strategies in the cultural, social, and political context of postwar Japan; and aims to further establish Gutai in an expanded, transnational history and critical discourse on modern art.
Illustrating 120 objects by 25 artists, featuring both iconic Gutai and lesser-known works, Splendid Playground presents a rich survey reflecting new scholarship. Designed to be an object as much as a book, this publication includes an illustrated chronology, a selection of Gutai artists’ writings, artist biographies, and a bibliography.