photo: SAIKI Taku

Untitled (Study for ”Bell”)

ArtistTANAKA Atsuko
Year1954
Material/ Techniquepencil, ink on paper
Size/ DurationH29.5×W22.1cm
Copyright Notice© Kanayama Akira and Tanaka Atsuko Association
Year of acquisition/ donation2002
DescriptionBorn in Osaka, Japan in 1932. Died in Nara in 2005.

Tanaka Atsuko attended the Art Academy of the Osaka Municipal Art Museum, where she began experimenting with representational painting and new forms of expression. In 1955 she joined the Gutai Art Association, attracting critical attention for works she exhibited at the group’s exhibitions, such as "work (Bell)" and "Electric Dress", a work consisting of a human figure with lighting tubes attached that flickered. In around 1957 she started to create paintings inspired by the bulbs and electric cords of "Electric Dress", and thereafter consistently produced paintings based on the same theme. Tanaka’s paintings with their complexly intertwining circles and lines are highly regarded both in Japan and overseas.

"Untitled (Study for 'Bell')" is a study for "work (Bell)", a work submitted to “The 3rd Genbi Exhibition” (held in 1955 at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art). "work (Bell)" consisted of 20 bells connected to a cord at two-meter intervals with a motor attached to make them sound automatically in sequence. This study is of the design drawings for the switch part of the mechanism that made the 20 bells sound sequentially. "Drawing after 'Electric Dress'" consists of sketches made by the artist after she exhibited Electric Dress in “The 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition” (held in 1956 at Ohara Hall, Tokyo). A total of 100 lighting tubes and around 90 light bulbs were attached to "Electric Dress". Half of these tubes and bulbs were coated with synthetic enamel paint in nine different colors, and a flasher unit with a combination of gears made the lights flicker irregularly. As well as depicting the threedimensional structure, the wiring, the color scheme for the lighting tubes and light bulbs, and other aspects of "Electric Dress", these sketches also offer an insight into Tanaka’s creative energy as revealed in the elaborate intertwining lines of her later works. Tanaka later concentrated her energies on painting, giving rise to such pieces as "work". It could be said that these paintings with their complexly intertwining circles and lines represent Tanaka’s own unique world of expression.

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