Atsuko Tanaka’s Work to highlight Brushwork II sale

Sotheby’s will offer Atsuko Tanaka’s Work (1963) in its Brushwork II – All the World’s a Stage auction.

The sale celebrates contemporary art that has been informed by the practice of calligraphy.

It’s valued at $902,370-1.1m.

Tanaka Atsuko work

Tanaka's performance work often made use of wires and lights

Tanaka (1932-2005) was a member of the Gutai group, a seminal Japanese performance art collective founded in the mid-1950s.

The Gutai Group was sponsored by the US during the reconstruction period that followed the second world war.

America wanted to shift Japan away from the social realist art that had dominated the pre-war era (and was also popular in most communist countries).  

Abstract art was seen as more individualist and in line with America ideals. It also had no ties to the ethnic nationalism that led Japan to invade China in 1937. 

Tanaka is most famous for her Electric Dress (1956) – a wearable creation constructed from different coloured lights that she wore onstage at the 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition in Tokyo that year.

The dress informed all of her work afterwards. Many of her canvases resemble lights connected with wires.  

Sotheby’s comments: “A rare masterpiece from 1963 executed two years before Tanaka left Gutai, the current lot exhibits an exceptionally compelling composition that renders it comparable to other early period Tanaka paintings in eminent museum collections…

“Work embodies post-war Japan’s throbbing heartbeat and flashing neon aesthetic…”

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