Kazuo Shiraga (Japanese, 1924-2008) Auspicious Yellow 1970
Lot 32
Kazuo Shiraga
(Japanese, 1924-2008)
Auspicious Yellow
1970
Sold for £47,500 (US$ 64,448) inc. premium

Lot Details
Kazuo Shiraga (Japanese, 1924-2008)
Auspicious Yellow
1970

signed; signed and titled in Japanese on the reverse
oil on canvas laid on board

22.4 by 27.4 cm.
8 13/16 by 10 13/16 in.

This work was executed circa 1970.

Footnotes

  • This work is accompanied by a photo-certificate of authenticity issued by the Shiraga Kazuo Kantei Toroku Linkai.

    Provenance
    Private Collection, Asia
    Sale: Shinwa Art Auction, Tokyo, Modern Art, 19 November 2011, Lot 64
    Private Collection, Asia
    Sale: Shinwa Art Auction, Tokyo, Modern Art, 23 November 2014, Lot 155
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner



    Auspicious Yellow of 1970 by Kazuo Shiraga is a riot of colour and texture, showcasing the great master of the Gutai movement's signature method in a voluptuous application of oil paint, all within this exquisite, jewel-like painting. Executed circa 1970 the present work can be seen as a classic example of the very essence of this radical and seismic movement that tore up the rule book globally rather than the effect being confined merely to Japan and Asia. The Gutai Art Association was founded in 1954 by the charismatic Jirō Yoshihara, an eccentric millionaire and artist who exhorted his followers to: "make something that has never existed before". The group rose from the ashes of Post-War Japanese culture where a combination of defeat and a state founded on anachronism stifled creativity and fostered a lack of confidence that was shattered by the sheer exhilaration of this radical new practice. As a leading figure from the movement that included luminaries such as Shozo Shimamoto and Chiyu Uemae Kazuo Shiraga's approach to painting sent shockwaves through the global art world. The great French innovator Yves Klein visited Japan between 1952 and 1954 and the influence of Shiraga's espousal of using his body to replace a paintbrush can clearly be seen in Klein's Anthropometry series. Shiraga's work consistently appears in the most important private and public collections in the world, not least the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Guggenheim Collection, New York and Tate Modern, London amongst many others.

    The present work evokes these developments clearly, with the paint applied seemingly at random and delivering exquisitely spontaneous results. The luxurious application of oil even within such a constrained pictorial plane indicates the confidence of a master at work and indeed can be seen as one of the most successful examples in this format ever to come to market. Japanese traditions of working in small format add extra potency to this work, to sustain the tension of the composition in such a tight frame requires a genuine understanding of the medium, not unlike in the creation of netsuke or indeed origami.

    Originally stemming from events where the artist was suspended by a rope above a canvas or piece of paper over which he would kick and manipulate the paint seemingly at random, as his career developed and the artist received exhibitions in New York by the venerated gallery owned by the great dealer Martha Jackson, his work began to recall the action paintings of Jackson Pollock ending the nihilism of the earlier works. Whilst the movement came to an end in 1972 following the sudden death of Yoshihara, Shiraga remains one of the most influential painters to have emerged anywhere in the world in the period after the Second World War and the very essence of his influence can be seen in this charming, arresting work.
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