Kazuo Shiraga - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 18, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Stadler, Paris (acquired directly from the artist)
    Gifted by the above to the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    One of the leading artists of the Gutai Art Association, Kazuo Shiraga helped to establish a new manner of production and artistic philosophy alongside the founder of the group, Jiro Yoshihara. Determined to promote and foster avant-garde creativity in the post-war years, the Gutai artists focused on experimentation in all areas of their art. At the same time, French gallery owner Rodolphe Stadler was fascinated by the dialogue between Eastern references laden with spirituality and Western creative exploration and was similarly determined to expose the developments of these new Japanese artists to his Western clientele. Stadler would accompany and steward Shiraga throughout the artist’s career, dedicating numerous exhibitions to him and championing his work in the west long before any others took notice.

    Shiraga painted the present composition, T52, in 1962, the same year of his first exhibition at Galerie Stadler and the same year that the Gutai Pinacotheca, the permanent exhibition space of the Gutai artists, opened in Osaka. Utilizing a near all-over painting style similar to the Abstract Expressionists that he so admired, Shiraga imbued his canvas with a potent energy. Garnet reds, ashy blacks, earthen yellows, and aquatic blue-greens all combine to create a composition which is a full expression of the artist’s own energy, and also mimics and reflects the powers of the natural world. Similar to Jackson Pollock, Shiraga sought a new way of painting, one without the mediating effects of having to wield a brush, and turned to painting with his feet, spreading the paint while hanging from a rope suspended from the roof of his studio. Employing meditation and using his body as a vehicle for his art, Shiraga aimed to connect with a form of original strength and primary energy that would obliterate conventional artistic values.

    Relying solely on the carnal instincts, Shiraga’s method eradicated all potential for second thoughts and retouching – a principle intrinsic to the traditional forms of calligraphy he had studied in his youth. Predating the philosophies of Yves Klein, who was inspired by his early encounters with Gutai, Shiraga explained, “I wanted to create paintings with no composition or no sense of colours, no nothing.” (Kazuo Shiraga quoted in “Osaka Action Talk: From an Interview by Haryu Ichiro (1973)” from Kazuo Shiraga: Six Decades, New York, 2009, p. 62) The canvas was no longer a screen on which the artist reproduced an object or expressed a state of mind, but a site of primal bodily action. While Pollock and Klein maintained a certain level of remove from the canvas, Shiraga imbued his artwork with a physical and psychological energy that allowed his raw materials to assume a life of their own.

Property Formerly in the Collection of Galerie Stadler



signed in Japanese and dated "Kazuo Shiraga 1962" lower right
oil on canvas
38 1/4 x 51 1/8 in. (97.2 x 129.9 cm.)
Painted in 1962.

$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

Sold for $1,330,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 18 May 2017