Japanese Modernism Across Media

The Gutai Group: Engaging in Experimental Methods

The Post-War period for Japan was an opportunity for modernity to flourish. New technologies, buildings, and government styles were able to take shape and shift Japan’s position in the global perspective. Despite this reality, the historical opinion that Japanese modern art is simple mimesis of Western art continued to thrive. As the power centers for the global art community were situated in the Western world, Japanese artists had difficulty entering the high art community with artistic practices that shifted away from traditional Japanese art. Artists from this time period noticed this frustrating atmosphere, and attempts to create an artistic identity that could easily be viewed as “unique” emerged. Yoshihara Jiro is one of the most famous Japanese artists to promote this philosophy through the artistic community he founded, the Gutai Group. Through this artistic community, Yoshihara prompted artists to “create what has never been done before”.

This virtual exhibition will explore the Gutai Group’s various attempts to create a distinctive modern art identity. One of the most consistent ways that the Gutai group tried to do so was through allowing audiences who may not consider themselves to be a part of the art community to be able to interact with art. These artists also made attempts to have the broader “art” community reimagine art to be inclusive to medium that were not traditionally considered to be “high art” by merging “low art” practices in their exhibitions. In order to best understand this exhibition, I urge viewers to view the “pages” in the order displayed on the right side (start with "Birth of Gutai" and end with "Gutai Card Box").


"Create what has never been done before!" Livi Huval, Bryn Mawr '15