Learn About The Early Years of Kazuo Shiraga, 1953–1958

This is the first in a series of three videos about the life and work of the artist.


Fergus McCaffrey is pleased to present Kazuo Shiraga: The Early Years, the first in a series of three videos about the life and work of the artist.

In 2009, Fergus McCaffrey produced the first exhibition of Kazuo Shiraga’s work in the United States and has since pioneered the understanding of this important artist’s work through exhibitions and publications. The gallery published Kazuo Shiraga: Six Decades (2009), the first English language publication on the artist, co-authored by art historian Reiko Tomii and Fergus McCaffrey.

This initial film documents the period between 1953 and 1957/58 when Shiraga was making amongst the most avant-garde artwork anywhere in the world. Shiraga joined the legendary Gutai Art Association in 1955, however, he had already demonstrated great innovation by making his first body painting in 1953 and foot-paintings in 1954. Gutai brought him closer to the influence of Jiro Yoshihara who famously challenged his students to “create what has never been done before.” Shiraga responded by making even larger ‘foot paintings’ of extraordinary aesthetic power created while swinging from a rope suspended from the ceiling, and by also staging revolutionary performative works such as Challenging Mud and Red Logs. Shiraga’s signature style and unique method remained consistent throughout the rest of his six-decade long career and Kazuo Shiraga: The Early Years documents the origins of his practice.

In recent years, Kazuo Shiraga’s work has been extensively featured in numerous exhibitions including:Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2013; Gutai: A Splendid Playground at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2013; Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga at Dallas Museum of Art, 2015; in addition to multiple other museum and gallery exhibitions.

Kazuo Shiraga’s work can be found in permanent collections around the world, such as Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Art, amongst many others.

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