Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas


Resounding Spirit: Japanese Contemporary Art of the 1960s
  • Resounding Spirit: Japanese Contemporary Art of the 1960s
  • 01-Mar-2008 - 18-May-2008
  • Kress Gallery, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

Resounding Spirit traces the pioneering use of abstract art by Japanese artists from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, a period characterized by innovation and a growing awareness of international currents in the art world. Abstract painting-one of the most significant artistic movements of the 20th century-was a worldwide phenomenon. Following the end of the U.S. occupation of Japan in 1952, Japanese artists once again became avid participants in avant-garde movements around the world, oftentimes creating uniquely Japanese manifestations. Groups of young artists such as Gutai (Japanese for “embodiment”) not only flouted previously held notions of art, but transgressed conventional ideas of practice. For instance, the Gutai artist Shiraga Kazuo completely abandoned the brush, producing painting using only his bare hands and feet. Ideas closely associated with abstract expressionism practiced by New York artists like de Kooning and Pollock inspired a rethinking of traditional calligraphy which engendered the gestural, illegible paintings known as “abstracted calligraphy.”

This exhibition features more than 50 paintings and works on paper by Japanese artists, including internationally respected members of Gutai; New-York based artists such as Kenzo Okada, known for his subdued tones and drifting forms; and representative artwork from other well-known international movements such as Art informel, Fluxus, Op, and Pop art. To complement the exhibition, the Spencer will install in its Asia Gallery a variety of postwar Japanese prints and ceramics, and the Central Court will feature Western art selections from the controversial 1960s, all drawn from the Spencer’s collection. Resounding Spirit: Japanese Contemporary Art of the 1960s was organized by The Gibson Gallery (Collection), SUNY Potsdam, New York. Kris Ercums, SMA Curator of Asian Art, is coordinating Resounding Spirit for the Spencer, and organizing the complementary Asia Gallery exhibition. Lara Kuykendall, European and American Art intern, is organizing the display in the Central Court.

Organized by The Roland Gibson Gallery, The State University of Potsdam in New York