Sadamasa Motonaga

- Selected Works
- Biography
Sadamasa Motonaga is a Japanese artist, born in 1922 in Ueno city, Japan. He was a self-taught artist, graduated from Mie Prefecture Ueno Commercial School in 1938 and aspiring to become a manga artist. He started painting figural and landscape works on canvas under the tutelage of Mankichi Hamabe. When in 1952 he moved to Kobe, he experimented the abstract painting and he made sculptures using a combination of natural and industrial materials (such as wood, water and plastic). In 1953, his work Kiiro no rafu (Yellow Nude) won the Holbein Prize at the Ashiya City Art Exhibition, capturing the attention of Jiro Yoshihara. Two years later, in 1955, Yoshihara invited Motonaga to join the Gutai Art Association, a group of radical post-war artists in Japan, and to participate to the group’s exhibition “Modern Art Outdoor Experimental Exhibition to Challenge the Midsummer Sun” in Ashiya Park. In this occasion, Motonaga created his most famous site-specific installation Work (Water) made by vinyl tubes filled with coloured water and hanged to the trees’ branches. He was then invited by the Japan Society to spend one year in New York from 1966 to 1967, followed by some time in Europe. Thanks to this period spent abroad, inspired by the traditional tarashikomi technique in which layers of paint are allowed to pool irregularly, he developed a technique using acrylic paint and airbrush. This new technique led in 1970 to a more peculiar style of intense, vivid and coloured saturated paintings and humorous titles. Back in Japan he left the Gutai group in 1971 and began making silkscreen prints, tapestry, chair design and illustrations for children’s books.  Throughout his entire life he received prizes for Excellence at the Contemporary Art Exhibition of Japan and other several awards and culture merit. In 2011, the Guggenheim in New York commissioned him to recreate the Work (Water) for the 2013 exhibition: Gutai: Splendid Playground.
He died in Kobe, Japan in 2011.
- Exhibitions
  • 2016

    Sadamasa Motonaga, The Energy of Infancy, Repetto Gallery, London.

  • 2015

    The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga, The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, USA.
    Sadamasa Motonaga, McCaffrey Fine Art Gallery, New York, USA.
    Sadamasa Motonaga, la felicità delle metamorfosi, De Primi Fine Art, Lugano, Switzerland.

  • 2012

    Sadamasa Motonaga, McCaffrey Fine Art, New York, USA
    National Art Center, ‘Gutai: The Spirit of an Era’, Tokyo, Japan
    Moderna Museet, ‘Explosion! Painting as Action’, Stockholm, Sweden

  • 2010

    Museo Cantonale d’Arte, ‘Gutai: dipingere con il tempo e lo spazio’, Lugano,
    Switzerland

  • 2009

    ‘La Biennale di Venezia, 53a Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, Fare Mondi’,
    Venice, Italy
    Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, ‘"Under Each Other's Spell": Gutai
    and New York’, New York NY (Travelling Exhibition).
    Motonaga Sadamasa, Mie Prefectural Art Museum, Japan.

  • 2007

    Itami City Museum of Art, ‘Motonaga Sadamasa and Nakatsuji Etsuko: the
    World of Picture Books’, Itami, Japan

  • 2006

    Museum Kunst Palast, ‘Zero. Internationale Künstler-Avantgarde der 50er/60er
    Jahre’, Düsseldorf, Germany (Travelling Exhibition).
    The Creative World of Sadamasa Motonaga: Playing with Colors, Shapes, Lines, and Words Nerima Art Museum, Tokyo.

  • 2005

    Sadamasa Motonaga: iro nagare katachi ugoite odori dasu Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum.

  • 2004

    Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, ‘GUTAI 1954-1972’, Kobe, Japan

  • 2003

    Sadamasa Motonaga- Moving and Dancing Colors, Streams, and Shapes Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima.

  • 2002

    Miyagi Museum of Art, ‘Artists of Gutai Art Association’, Sendai, Japan.
    Sadamasa Motonaga, Otani Memorial Art Museum, Nishinomiya City, Hyogo, Japan.

  • 2001

    Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, ‘Le Tribù dell'Arte’, Rome,
    Italy

  • 1999

    Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, ‘Gutai’, Paris, France

  • 1997

    Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino, ‘Torino Parigi New
    York Osaka. Tapié. Un Art Autre’, Turin, Italy (Travelling Exhibition)

  • 1994

    Guggenheim Museum, ‘Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky’, New
    York NY (Travelling Exhibition)

  • 1993

    Ashiya City Museum of Art & History, ‘Gutai II: 1959-1965’, Ashiya, Japan
    Ashiya City Museum of Art & History, ‘Gutai III: 1965-1972’, Ashiya, Japan
    ‘La Biennale di Venezia, 45a Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, Passaggio ad
    Oriente’, Venice, Italy
    Ehime Museum of Art, ‘Challenge of Art After the War: Jiro Yoshihara and the
    Gutai Group’, Matsuyama, Japan
    Penrose Institute of Contemporary Arts, ‘Gutai 1955/56: Restarting Point for
    Japanese Contemporary Art’, Tokyo, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)

  • 1992

    Miyagi Museum of Art, ‘Artists of Gutai Art Association’, Sendai, Japan
    Ashiya City Museum of Art & History, ‘Gutai I: 1954-1958’, Ashiya, Japan
    Ashiya Park, ‘Outdoor Exhibition Revisited’, Ashiya, Japan

  • 1991

    Institut Mathildenhöhe, ‘Gutai Japanische Avantgarde 1954-1965’, Darmstadt,
    Germany
    Fukuoka Art Museum, ‘Adventurers of Paintings “Gutai”’, Fukuoka, Japan
    Sadamasa Motonaga, Mie Prefectural Art Museum, Japan.

  • 1990

    Shoto Museum of Art, ‘Gutai: The Avant-Garde Group Unfinished’, Tokyo,
    Japan
    Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, ‘Giappone all’avanguardia. Il Gruppo Gutai
    negli anni Cinquanta’, Rome, Italy.
    Sadamasa Motonaga Takashima-ya Art Gallery, Namba Takashima-ya Department Store, Osaka, Japan.

  • 1986

    Centre Pompidou, ‘Japon des Avant-Gardes 1910-1970’, Paris, France

  • 1985

    Ashiya Civic Center, ‘Jiro Yoshihara and Gutai’, Ashiya, Japan
    National Museum of Art, ‘Action and Emotion, Paintings of the '50s, Informel, Gutai, Cobra’, Osaka, Japan
    Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo, ‘Grupo Gutai: Pintura y Acción’,
    Madrid, Spain (Travelling Exhibition)
    The World of Sadamasa Motonaga: His Informel period, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan.

  • 1984

    Museum of Modern Art,’ Series of Kansai Artists: Motonaga Sadamasa and
    Shiraga Kazuo’, Wakayama, Japan

  • 1980

    National Museum of Art, ‘Artists Today 2: Takamatsu Jiro and Motonaga
    Sadamasa’, Osaka, Japan

  • 1979

    Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, ‘Jiro Yoshihara and Today's Aspects
    of Gutai’, Kobe, Japan

  • 1978

    Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, ‘Beauty of Space’, Utsunomiya, Japan

  • 1976

    Osaka Prefectural Gallery, ‘Eighteen Years of Gutai Art’, Osaka, Japan

  • 1975

    Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, ‘Four Abstract Artists’, Kobe, Japan

  • 1971

    Pinacoteca Provinciale, ‘Aspetti dell’Informale. Mostra storica Internazionale’,
    Bari, Italy

  • 1970

    Midori Pavilion, ‘Exhibition at the entrance of Expo ’70 Midori Pavilion by the
    Gutai Group’, Osaka, Japan
    Gallery Iteza, ‘An Exhibition of Prints by Eight Gutai Artists’, Kyoto, Japan
    (Travelling Exhibition)

  • 1969

    Galleria d'Arte Cortina, ‘Spazi astratti. Dall'intuizione alla concettualizzazione’,
    Milan, Italy
    Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum, ‘1st Hiroshima Renaissance Art Exhibition’,
    Hiroshima, Japan

  • 1968

    Gutai Pinacotheca, ‘20th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka, Japan
    Gutai Pinacotheca, ‘21st Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka, Japan
    Miyazaki Kanko Hotel, ‘Contemporary Art Exhibition Only in the Night’, Miyazaki,
    Japan

  • 1967

    Heide Hildebrand Gallery, ‘Gutai Group Exhibition’, Klagenfurt, Austria
    Gutai Pinacotheca, ‘19th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka, Japan (Travelling
    Exhibition)

  • 1966

    Union Carbide Building, ‘1st Japan Art Festival’, New York NY
    International Gallery Orez, ‘NUL 1966 Art Exhibition (Nul Negentienhonderd
    zesenzestig)’, The Hague, Netherlands
    Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Art Palais de Rumine, ‘2ème Salon International des
    Galeries Pilotes Lausanne’, Lausanne, Switzerland
    Takashimaya Department Store, ‘17th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Yokohama, Japan
    (Travelling Exhibition)

  • 1965

    Kunsthaus, ‘Moderne Malerei aus Japan’, Zurich, Switzerland
    Stedelijk Museum, ‘NUL 1965 Art Exhibition (Nul Negentienhonderd
    vijfenzestig)’, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Museum of Modern Art, ‘The New Japanese Painters and Sculptures’, New
    York (Travelling Exhibition)
    Gutai Pinacotheca, ‘15th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka, Japan
    Keio Department Store, ‘16th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Tokyo, Japan
    Galerie Stadler, ‘Groupe Gutai’, Paris, France (Travelling Exhibition)

  • 1964

    Takashimaya Department Store, ‘14th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka, Japan
    Corcoran Gallery, ‘Contemporary Japanese Painting and Sculpture’ Washington
    D.C.

  • 1963

    Takashimaya Department Store, ‘12th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Tokyo, Japan
    Takashimaya Department Store, ‘13th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka, Japan
    Grand Palais, ‘Exposition d’Art Moderne’, Paris, France.
    Sadamasa Motonaga Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo, Japan.

  • 1962

    Takashimaya Department Store, ‘11th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka, Japan
    Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, ‘Strutture e Stile’, Turin, Italy
    Sankei Hall, ‘Don't Worry, the Moon Won't Fall Down: Gutai Art and Morita
    Modern Dance’, Osaka, Japan

  • 1961

    International Center of Aesthetic Research, ‘The Continuité et Avant-garde au Japon’, Turin, Italy
    Takashimaya Department Store, ‘10th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka, Japan
    (Travelling Exhibition)
    Palazzo del Centro del Mobile, ‘XII Premio Lissone internazionale per la pittura’, Lissone, Italy
    First solo exhibition at Martha Jackson Gallery, NY, Japan

  • 1960

    Takashimaya Department Store, ‘The International Sky Festival’, Osaka, Japan
    Takashimaya Department Store, ‘9th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Osaka, Japan
    Martha Jackson Gallery, ‘Four Japanese Artists’, New York NY

  • 1959

    Circolo degli Artisti in Palazzo Graneri, ‘Arte Nuova, Esposizione Internazionale di
    pittura e scultura’, Turin, Italy
    Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, ‘8th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Kyoto, Japan
    (Travelling Exhibition)
    Gendai Gallery, ‘The Fifteen Japanese Contemporary Artists Recommended by
    Tapié’, Tokyo, Japan
    Palazzo del Centro del Mobile, ‘XI Premio Lissone internazionale per la pittura’,
    Lissone, Italy

  • 1958

    Asahi Hall, ‘2nd Gutai Art on the Stage’, Osaka, Japan
    Takashimaya Department Store, ‘International Art of a New Era: Informel and
    Gutai’, Osaka, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)
    Ohara Hall, ‘Gutai Small Works Exhibition’ (later known as ‘5th Gutai Art
    Exhibition’), Tokyo, Japan
    Martha Jackson Gallery, ‘The Gutai Group Exhibition’ (later know as ‘6th Gutai
    Art Exhibition’), New York NY (Travelling Exhibition)

  • 1957

    Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, ‘3rd Gutai Art Exhibition’, Kyoto, Japan
    Sankei Hall, ‘Gutai Art on the Stage’, Osaka, Japan (Travelling Exhibition)
    Ohara Hall, ‘4th Gutai Art Exhibition’, Tokyo, Japan

  • 1956

    Mukogawa River, ‘One Day Only Outdoor Exhibition’ (also known as the ‘Ruins
    Exhibition’), Amagasaki, Japan
    Ashiya Park, ‘Outdoor Gutai Art Exhibition’, Ashiya, Japan
    Ohara Hall, ‘2nd Gutai Art Exhibition’, Tokyo, Japan

  • 1955

    1st Gutai Art Exhibition - Ohara Kaikan Hall, Tokyo

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