Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects
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Process / Reprocess   Japan and the West
November 4 – December 23, 2000

Ellen Brooks, James Lee Byars, Jessica Diamond, Wiliam Klein, Yves Klein,
Yayoi Kusama, Kyupi Kyupi, Nikki S. Lee, Roy Lichtenstein,
Yasumasa Morimura, Daido Moriyama, Yoko Ono, Richard Serra,
Ushio Shinohara, Kunié Sugiura, Richard Tuttle
(Organized in collaboration with Midori Nishizawa)


We are pleased to announce the inauguration of our new location with an exhibition of paintings, photographs, drawings, books, video, and ephemera from the 1950s to the present by Ellen Brooks, James Lee Byars, Jessica Diamond, William Klein, Yves Klein, Yayoi Kusama, Kyupi Kyupi, Nikki S. Lee, Roy Lichtenstein, Yasumasa Morimura, Daido Moriyama, Yoko Ono, Richard Serra, Ushio Shinohara, Kunié Sugiura, and Richard Tuttle.


The impact of Japanese aesthetics on advanced art and design in Europe and the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is well-documented in the histories of such movements as Impressionism, Art Nouveau and pictorialist photography. The influence of western images and ideas has appeared in Japanese art since the mid-19th century, with its strongest impact exerted from the end of the Second World War to the present.


This exhibition surveys works by Japanese artists that assimilate aspects of western culture and American and European artists who have been influenced by Japanese aesthetics and philosophy.


The earliest work in the exhibition, Les fondements du Judo, is a rare book written by Yves Klein in 1954 upon his return to Paris after intensive study in Japan. On view also are monumentally-scaled drawings from the early 1960s and 1970s by the American artists, James Lee Byars, who spent the formative years of his career and the last months of his life in Japan, and by Richard Serra, who has acknowledged the profound influence of Japanese spatial concepts on his works.


Ushio Shinohara enacted his first “boxing painting” performance in 1958 after seeing a demonstration of action painting in the window of a Tokyo department store by the French Informel artist Georges Mathieu. William Klein’s 1961 photographs of Shinohara, are among the best-known of his Tokyo images and are featured in the exhibition alongside a Shinohara boxing painting that measures forty nine feet. Kunié Sugiura’s life-sized photogram of Shinohara performing in 1999 is also on view.


Among the other highlights of the exhibition are Yayoi Kusama’s Macaroni Suitcase of 1965 and photographs of Kusama in her studio taken by Peter Moore in the mid-1960s. Yoko Ono is represented by examples from the Reflux edition of A Box of Smile (1971/84), and other rare multiples.


More recent pieces on view include Yasumasa Morimura’s self portrait as Elizabeth Taylor and photographs from Nikki S. Lee’s series, Young Japanese in the East Village, in which the artist, originally from Korea, comments on Asian identity in the West and the cultural and historical complexities between her native country and Japan. Two video works by the performance collective Kyupi Kyupi synthesize such varied influences as the Op Art paintings of Bridget Riley, Japanese avant-garde theater and American television.


This exhibition was organized in collaboration with Midori Nishizawa, an independent art dealer based in New York who directed the Akira Ikeda Galleries in Japan and New York from 1986 to 1996 and was a co-editor of the Art Random book series.