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

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  • Provenance

    Kashiwagi Gallery, Tokyo
    P. Cornette De Saint-Cyr, Paris, June 17, 1988, lot 61
    Private Collection, Japan

  • Exhibited

    Osaka, The National Museum of Art, Your Portrait: A Tetsumi Kudo Retrospective , November 2 – January 19, 2013, then traveled to Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art, February 4 – March 30, 2014 and The Aomori Museum of Art, April 12–June 8, 2014

  • Literature

    Your Portrait: A Tetsumi Kudo Retrospective, exh. cat., The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Daikin Foundation for Contemporary Arts, 2013, no 87, P260

  • Catalogue Essay

    The artist of provocation, Tetsumi Kudo was part of the emerging Anti-Art sentiment during the late 1950s to the early 1960s in Japan. Although educated at the prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts, Kudo’s unbridled experimentalism led him to incorporate a broad range of unconventional materials into his sculptures and installations. Often charged with socio-political critique and tabooed sexual connotations, his work pushed the limit of postwar Japanese art to a new level of imagination.

    Despite the scandalous reputation he gained through a series of entries in the Yomiuri Independent Exhibitions, Kudo remained outside of the short-lived avant-garde group Neo Dada Organizers formed in Tokyo by his friend-artist Ushio Shinohara in 1960. By 1962, the year he moved to Paris, Kudo’s independent stance allowed him to fully formulate a unique theory that he called “impo philosophy” (impotent philosophy) which held that the ultimate purpose of human cerebral activities, physiology, and mechanism of society is for the preservation of the species; therefore, man can never be free from the laws of biology no matter how intensely he tries to rebel against it.

    Although the title did not survive in record for the present work, it embodies all the key characteristics of Kudo’s art: a cage as an allusion to a controlled environment of experiments, parts as a hand of god or of a mad scientist turned his own subject of experiments, electrified colors that are antithetical to subdued shades of stereotypically Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic, and repetition of patterns or shapes suggesting uncontrolled cellular divisions like that of a cancer cell. After his move to Paris, Kudo constantly challenged the traditional humanism of European cultural environment, producing numerous objects and performances. When asked if his work expressed a sadistic nightmare, he answered about his visions: “They are not a dream any longer; they are the reality. They are the portrait of our existence, dissolving in the polluted nature and the ocean of technology. The “dissolution of mankind” does not mean our death. It signifies a process of mutation and thereby “being given life again.” My duty is to visualize this process in my work as a model for you to see.” (National Museum of Art Osaka. Tetsumi Kudo: Contestation/Création, Osaka: National Museum of Art Osaka, 1994, p. 14.)

Property from a Private Collection, Tokyo



1967 - 1972
birdcage, cotton, plastic, polyester, adhesive, thermometer, artificial soil and plant
12 1/4 x 14 1/2 x 8 3/4 in. (31.1 x 36.8 x 22.2 cm)
Signed and dated "Tetsumi KUDO 67-72" on the underside.

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $197,000

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