Takeo Yamaguchi - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Tuesday, November 10, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Mudo Gallery, Tokyo
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Yamaguchi Takeo Sakuhin-Shu, Tokyo, 1981, no. 121

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in Seoul under Japanese rule in 1902, Yamaguchi returned to Japan when he was nineteen years old. While studying at the Tokyo Art School (today’s Tokyo University of the Arts) in the 1920s, he immersed himself in Yo-ga, or Western-style painting using oil paint and canvas. After graduating in 1927, he moved to Paris and became acquainted directly with the works of Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, and Ossip Sadkine. After returning to Tokyo in 1931 Yamaguchi became a key artist in the vanguard art scene in Japan, eventually joining a circle of cutting-edge artists such as Jiro Yoshihara (1905–1972; the founder of the Gutai Art Association in the 1950s) to establish an artist association Kyushitsu-kai (Ninth Room Association) in 1938.

    Yamaguchi’s postwar abstraction, which evolved out of his longtime interest in Cubism, attests to the artist’s resolve in the search for pure form and experimentation. His signature style of geometric forms, built up with layers of paint applied by a palette knife against black background, reached its maturation in the mid-1950s. Sequence of Squares is highly representative of this style. Slightly awkward and disjointed ochre colored rectangles have more sculptural weight than a painterly touch, reflecting Yamaguchi’s prewar practice in Cubist sculpture while the crisscross pattern creates a relief-like depth resembling collage. While gestural movement and rugged surface of Art Informel was just starting to cause a whirlwind trend in Japan, Yamaguchi remained true to his commitment to pure form and singularly created his own language of post-Cubist minimalism. Yamaguchi’s individualism was duly commended in the year in which the present work was created when he was selected as a representing Artist of Japan for the 28th Venice Biennale.

Property from a Private Collection, Tokyo


Sequence of Squares

oil on board, in artist's frame
23 7/8 x 17 7/8 in. (60.7 x 45.5 cm)
Signed, titled and dated in Japanese "連続した四角 一九五六年一〇月 山口長男 [Sequence of Squares 1956 October Yamaguchi Takeo]" on the reverse.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $173,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 10 November 2015 11am