New Digital Features Explore Gutai: Splendid Playground

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New Digital Features Explore Gutai: Splendid Playground

Gutai: Splendid Playground, now on view at the Guggenheim, showcases the artistic experimentation and engaged aesthetics of the Gutai Art Association, postwar Japan’s most influential avant-garde collective. The group’s name, “Gutai,” translates as “concreteness,” and its members sought to confront and reveal the physical qualities of the material used to make art, firing it from cannons, smashing through it with their bodies, or simply tacking it to a wall. The aim of these sometimes violent confrontations was to break down distinctions between art and the everyday, emancipating the creation and experience of art.

Bringing the spontaneity of Gutai: Splendid Playground to the web, the Guggenheim has published an exhibition site. Divided into six thematic sections that explore different facets of Gutai’s work and process, the site presents artworks spanning the group’s history, a listing of the artists who were its members, an album of vintage black-and-white photos documenting their interaction with art world luminaries, and interior spreads from the influential Gutai journal.

Please Draw Freely, a newly launched interactive feature, accompanies the site, inviting visitors to create collaborative pieces of art. Like Yoshihara Jirō’s work of the same name, the feature playfully asks participants to start a new drawing or to draw on top of those created by others. Gutai artists Imai Norio, Horio Sadaharu, and Matsutani Takesada contributed drawings to kick things off, and visitors have already responded to them in exciting ways. Browse all the drawings or create your own at Please Draw Freely.

To enhance the experience of visitors to Gutai: Splendid Playground and provide a wealth of information for use at home, the Guggenheim has released a free app that presents all artworks on view in the exhibition, writings by curators and Gutai artists, multimedia tours, and behind-the-scenes videos. The app is available in the iTunes Store.