Kazuo Shiraga - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Tuesday, November 15, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Stadler, Paris (acquired directly from the artist)
    Gifted by the above to the present owner in 2014

  • Literature

    Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino, exh. cat., Dominique Lévy Gallery, New York, 2015, no. 34 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Gallery owner Rodolphe Stadler, fascinated by the dialogue between Eastern references laden with spirituality and western creative exploration, was among the most influential people promoting Kazuo Shiraga's work. Stadler showed Shiraga's first paintings in Métamorphisme, a collective exhibition in 1959, before organizing the artist's first solo exhibition outside Japan, in 1962, the same year the Gutai Pinacotheca, the permanent exhibition space of the Gutai artists, opened in Osaka. 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.

    This particular work, T40, painted in that seminal year of 1962, is a testament to both Shiraga and Stadler, and the incredible legacies they each left behind. By turning to 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. Abandoning brushes entirely, Shiraga would suspend himself from a rope above the canvas and glide over it, pushing and swirling the paint underneath.

    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, 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.

    A composition loaded with the kinetic energy of the artist, T40 is a superlative example of the artist working at the height of his power. Deep ocean blues obliterate the upper right quadrant, giving way to brilliant white strikes, violent red swathes and a final explosion of black in the lower left. Stadler’s attraction to this art is impossible to estimate accurately in hindsight, given the critical and commercial acclaim it received in the interceding years, as well as the popularity which he had a distinct hand in promulgating. Just as Shiraga was able to meld body and soul, two-dimensional form with three-dimensional action, Stadler recognized in the Eastern inflections of Shiraga’s art a connection to the western philosophical accomplishments of his countrymen, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, whose existentialist conceptions, “existence preceding essence,” found fertile ground in the action-based painting of Shiraga.

Property Formerly in the Collection of Galerie Stadler

Ο ◆8


signed in Japanese "Kazuo Shiraga" lower left and dated "1962" on the reverse
oil on canvas
45 5/8 x 35 in. (116 x 89 cm.)
Painted in 1962.

$1,200,000 - 1,800,000 

Sold for $1,450,000

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 November 5 PM EST