About this artwork
Shiraga Fujiko, an artist associated with the first phase of the Gutai movement, characterized the collage materials she incorporated into her paintings as “dangerous things.” In Untitled, these included large shards of broken glass interwoven with torn sheets of Japanese washi paper, which she gradually layered with wax and oil paint to produce a range of textures and translucencies. The presence of hazardous materials reflects an aggressive stance toward traditions of fine art and stands in contrast to both the delicate effects she achieved and the work’s subtle palette. At the same time, Shiraga’s deployment of these media aligned her with fellow Gutai artists who pierced, burned, and shot at the surfaces of their works.
From 1955 to 1961, as Japan slowly recovered from the devastation of World War II, Shiraga helped inaugurate the Gutai Art Association, an artists’ group named for the Japanese word for “concreteness.” Embracing the vitality of raw materials and the authenticity of gesture, she and her colleagues championed abstraction, advocating for individual self-expression in postwar Japan. While Gutai artists positioned themselves in dialogue with Abstract Expressionist painters active in the United States and Europe such as Jackson Pollock and Georges Mathieu, they also helped change the critical conversation around Abstract Expressionism by underscoring the aspects of performance and physical interaction that had always been part of the movement.
- Fujiko Shiraga
- Made 1961
- Oil, Japanese paper, and glass on canvas
- 160 × 132.1 cm (63 × 52 in.)
- Kate S. Buckingham Endowment Fund