The Japanese Collection contains the largest single number of Gutai artworks in this country and is a time capsule of Japanese painting from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.
According to Japanese art scholar, Dr. Ming Tiampo, the Gutai were a group of about 25 young artists whose innovative artistic experiments defied previously held notions about art and painting.
Many Gutai works treated the canvas with irreverence, breaking through traditional rules of art and representation. For the Gutai, making art that addressed the post-war world necessitated experimenting with new materials and techniques- not the materials of high art, but rather the stuff of everyday life: sheet metal, old newspapers, masking tape, synthetic fabric, mud, water, light, etc.
The collection’s focus is abstraction. Its strength is in the work from the 1960s. It is a broad spectrum of modernist works by artists of two different generations, divided by their birthdates of before and after 1920. These diverse works tell a distinct story of the lineage within the vanguard movement. Contained within this collection is the largest set of Gutai art in the United States. A few notable artists included are:
- Nobu Fukui
- Toshio Iwasa
- Takeshi Kawashima
- Sadamasa Motonaga
- Ushio Shinoharo
- Kazuo Shiraga