Kazuo Shiraga

Kazuo Shiraga

Kazuo Shiraga was born in 1924 in Amagasaki, Japan. After studying Nihon-ga (Japanese-style painting) in Kyoto and growing frustrated with the stylistic and material confines he found in Nihon-ga, Shiraga participated in Gendai Bijutsu Kondankai (Contemporary Art Discussion Group) with several other students and began experimenting with making oil paintings using his hands and fingers. Shiraga found the viscosity of tube-ready oil paint more “free” than the inconvenient and thin ink-based pigments he had used in painting school. In 1954, Shiraga joined renowned Japanese avant-garde collective Gutai and was inspired by Gutai’s leader, Jiro Yoshihara, to further push his performative, material-driven painting practice in order to “make something that never existed” before. During his time as a member of Gutai, Shiraga simultaneously pursued oil painting and performance, often integrating the two practices in performance-painting pieces as Challenging Mud (1955), in which the artist used his entire body to manipulate mud as if it were thick, pliable paint, and Ultramodern Sanbaso (1957), in which he wore a dramatic red costume with elongated and wing-like arms, his movements creating slashes of color against the stark black backdrop of the stage. Shiraga continued this exploration of the relationship between body and material over the course of his career, and is best known for the large-scale foot paintings he made well into his eighties. The foot paintings explore themes of Japanese history, Chinese mythology, and Buddhism while preserving the explosive movements of an artist who continuously sought a dynamic and collaborative relationship with his medium.

Selected Works

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  • No. 37 (T45) (detail of)
    1962
    Oil on canvas
    35 x 45 5/8 inches (89 x 116 cm)

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  • Chikisei Sesuisho
    1960
    Oil on canvas
    51 1/4 x 76 inches (130 x 193 cm)
    Signed and dated (lower left); signed, titled, and dated in Japanese (on the reverse)

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  • Höhö
    1991
    Oil on canvas
    76 3/8 x 102 inches (194 x 259 cm)
    Signed and dated (lower left)

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  • Chiyosei Mochakuten
    1960
    Oil on canvas
    51 1/4 x 76 5/8 inches (130 x 194.5 cm)
    Signed and dated (lower right)

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Selected Press

The Art Newspaper | Gutai's Spectacular Rise

June 1, 2017

After a show in Venice and sales in Paris a decade ago, US collectors started to take the post-war …

Harper's Bazaar Arabia | Guggenheim Abu Dhabi: The Act Of An Artist

March 22, 2017

Also here is a group of paintings by the Japanese Gutai Art Association (1954-1972), namely by Shiraga …

Art Market Monitor | Shiraga and Gutai Market Tread Water Waiting for Breakout

March 6, 2017

Colin Gleadell gives a pocket market history of how the Gutai painters were ‘discovered’ in recent …

Londonist | Art Review: dark & abstract

March 6, 2017

Japanese painter Kazuo Shiraga has created abstract pieces with forceful brushstrokes.

The Telegraph | The Japanese Radicals taking the art world by storm

February 28, 2017

Sixteen years ago, the first UK exhibition for the Japanese action/performance artist Kazuo Shiraga

Galleries Now | Kazuo Shiraga

February 6, 2017

A selection of Shiraga's forceful gestural canvases, mostly dating to the early 1960s, a period when …

Financial Times | Critics' Choice - Kazuo Shiraga

February 4, 2017

Saburo Murakami punctured paper surfaces by hurling himself through them – once so violently that …

Financial Times | The comeback kings and queens of art

May 20, 2016

It was the 1960s and 70s, and America was teeming with groundbreaking protest and game-changing political …

ArtAsiaPacific | Fancy Footwork

July 1, 2015

The year is 1954. Thick splashes of paint are poured from a bucket onto a canvas lying on the floor …

Momus | Seeing Red: Understanding Kazuo Shiraga's Sudden Fame

April 8, 2015

In recent years, the reputation of postwar abstract painter Kazoo Shiraga (1924-2008) – known for …

C File Daily | Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino at Dominique Lévy Gallery, New York

April 1, 2015

The Dominique Lévy Gallery in New York City is showcasing the work of two Japenese artists (one from …

Bloomberg | This Is How an Unknown Japanese Artist—Who Painted With His Feet—Became a Star

March 25, 2015

In 2011, five American art collectors were traveling across Japan in search of artists associated …

Blouin Artinfo | Unseen Eye on Gutai

March 1, 2015

The recent confluence of exhibitions featuring the postwar Japanese artist Kazuo Shiraga has been …

Cultured | A Lasting Impression

March 1, 2015

Improbably, it was in a 15th-century Venetian palazzo that gallery owner Dominique Lévy first encountered …

The New York Times | Art World Rediscovers Kazuo Shiraga

February 27, 2015

A member of the Gutai group of avant-garde artists, Shiraga developed during his six-decade career …

Christies | Action Painting: The body electric

February 16, 2015

Kazuo Shiraga, James Nares, and Hugo McCloud acknowledge their relationship with their artworks — …

Vogue | Watch This Exclusive Video of Kazuo Shiraga Action Painting

February 12, 2015

“My completed work is not for someone to appreciate. It should have the impact of a blow,” Kazuo …

Art News | Preview: ‘Body and Matter’ at Dominique Lévy

January 28, 2015

Earlier today Dominique Lévy gallery hosted a press preview for “Body and Matter,” a show that …

T Magazine | An Inventive Postwar Japanese Painter Has His Moment

January 28, 2015

Ironically, Kazuo Shiraga’s feet were nearly his feet of clay. The breakout star of the Gutai Art …

Observer | 8 Things to Do in New York’s Art World Before January 31

January 27, 2015

Dominique Levy will position 23 paintings by Gutai artist Kazuo Shiraga next to nine artworks completed …

Artnews | 6 Art Events to Attend In New York This Week

January 26, 2015

“This exhibition places a group of 23 important abstract paintings made over the course of the fifty-year …

Artnet | Your Art Agenda: 8 Things to Do This Week

January 26, 2015

“Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino” opens at Dominique Lévy...

Widewalls | Body and Matter: Shiraga and Hoshino

January 2, 2015

Dominique Lévy in New York is opening a spectacular exhibition the last week of January, featuring …

Daily AD | Three Exhibitions Spotlight Japanese Artist Kazuo Shiraga

December 31, 2014

In 1957, suspended from the ceiling of an Osaka gallery and dressed in a red Pinocchio suit, Japanese …

art market monitor | ABMB Sales Report

December 10, 2014

Dominique Levy Gallery: David Hammons, “Untitled” from 1989-90 sold in the region of $1.5 million; …

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