The Beginnings of the Contemporary Art in Japan
After World War II, Japanese art underwent major changes. This period is characterized by groups of artists such as the radical Gutai group, which rejected traditional styles in favor of approaching a bold style on a large scale from the 1950s to the 1970s.
The 1980s introduced postmodernism, and Japanese artists began to have a greater impact in the world of international art. So the line between traditional and modern has slowly blurred as new artists have introduced new expressions largely inspired by pop culture.
A new generation of artists led by Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara, appears on the Japanese art scene. Japan is thus witnessing the “Superflat” movement – initiated by Murakami – that combines the aesthetics of pop art and the “kawaii” culture. However, these artists have largely found success abroad, rather than in their own country, because the society was still oriented towards traditionalism.
Gutai Radical Art Group
Individualism has been a central concern for artists in the Gutai group. During World War II, the Japanese totalitarian regime promoted the notion of mass consciousness and suppressed in a way any desire for individual expression.
In this direction, the members of the group rebelled against this attitude in their writings and works of art, encouraging the public and other artists to “do what no one has done before!”
Members of the group included Kazuo Shiraga, Saburõ Murakami and Jirõ Yoshihara. The style of the members was influenced by American abstract expressionism. The group’s goal was largely to create dynamic works of art that would not be subject to traditional norms.
New Artists, New Art
Artists such as Takashi Murakami and Takato Yamamoto have largely revolutionized contemporary Japanese art through their unique styles inspired by pop culture and traditional Japanese elements.
Takashi Murakami is known for his contemporary synthesis of fine art and pop culture, the artist using bold and animated graphics. Murakami is also known for his manga style. He became famous in the 1990s for his “Superflat” theory, which linked the origins of contemporary Japanese visual culture to Japanese historical art. His work includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, animations, but also collaborations with brands such as “Louis Vuitton”.
As for Takato Yamamoto, the artist was born in Akita Prefecture, Japan, in 1960 and graduated from the painting department of Zokei University in Tokyo.
Yamamoto began his professional career as an illustrator before becoming a visual artist and painter.
Yamamoto’s style is known as “Ukiyo-e Pop,” a reunion of the “Ukiyo-e” style that depicts elements of traditional Japanese art, such as nature, history, theater, and pop art, but borrows heavily from advertising, graphic design, and animation.
Takato Yamamoto’s paintings are rich and detailed illustrations that revolve around darkness, eroticism, love, and death Yamamoto is best known for developing a unique style that he called “Heisei Aesthetics.” This style combines the influences of Japanese “ukiyo-e” painting with Western Gothic art.
In addition, artists such as Yoshitomo Nara, Tomokazu Matsuyama, or Yayoi Kusama remain very popular due to their specific styles of pop inspiration.
Therefore, Japanese art is in a constant evolution after World War II, knowing different styles, from overcoming the barriers of traditionalism to masterpieces of “pop” inspiration. Japanese artists have managed to reduce the boundaries between human spirit and matter, fine art, and popular culture.
Find out more here: https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/art/evolution-of-japanese-art-from-modern-to-contemporary-art
And if you want to read something about contemporary art, take a look at this article: https://www.pov21.com/less-conventional-forms-of-expression-the-art-from-the-shadow/