February 15–May 8, 2013
Gutai: Splendid Playground is the first U.S. museum retrospective exhibition ever devoted to Gutai, the most influential artists’ collective and artistic movement in postwar Japan and among the most important international avant-garde movements of the 1950s and 1960s. The exhibition aims to demonstrate Gutai’s extraordinary range of bold and innovative creativity; to examine its aesthetic strategies in the cultural, social, and political context of postwar Japan and the West; and to further establish Gutai in an expanded history of modern art.
Organized thematically and chronologically to explore Gutai’s unique approach to materials, process, and performativity, this exhibition explores the group’s radical experimentation across a range of mediums and styles, and demonstrates how individual artists pushed the limits of what art could be and mean in a post-atomic age. The range includes painting (gestural abstraction and post-constructivist abstraction), conceptual art, experimental performance and film, indoor and outdoor installation art, sound art, mail art, interactive or “playful” art, light art, and kinetic art. The Guggenheim show comprises some 120 objects by twenty-five artists on loan from major museum and private collections in Japan, the United States, and Europe, and features both iconic and lesser-known Gutai works to present a rich survey reflecting new scholarship, especially on so-called “second phase” works dating from 1962–72.