Tokyo: A New Avant Garde

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Eleazar Fernandez

Professor Ella Rue
INTD 101 – 3
February 4th, 2013

Tokyo: A New Avant-Garde

On Saturday, February 2nd, I attended the Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art. Through different forms of media and art, the exhibit portrays the turbulent times and cultural evolution occurring in Japan. From the mid-1950s through the 1960s, Tokyo transformed itself from the capital of a war-torn nation into an international center, for arts, culture, and commerce, becoming home to some of the most important art being made at the time. At the end of World War II, many Japanese artists began moving away from traditional modes and concepts of art, although some traditionalists still lingered. From the 1950’s onward, the end of the war became an incentive for many avant-garde artists to come together and create new, contemporary art. Advocates of this movement were Kazuo Ohno (October 27, 1906 – June 1, 2010), Yukio Mishima (January 14, 1925 – November 25, 1970), and Nagisa Oshima (March 31, 1932 – January 15, 2013).

Butoh (pronounced butō) is a blanket term for techniques and ideas relating to movements, dance and live performances. Butoh portrays taboo topics through dream-like environments and movements that depict a whole range of human emotions. Kazuo Ohno (October 27, 1906 – June 1, 2010) is a notorious butoh artist, famous for his grotesque and ethereal performances. One of his performances, “My Mother”, is his magnum opus. Every deliberate movement and slight twitch of his muscles, paints an image of emotions from happiness and anguish, to anxiety and jubilation.

Yukio Mishima (January 14, 1925 – November 25, 1970) was a nationalist, critic, playwright and author that melded both traditional and modern aesthetics in his writings, with a focus on sexuality and politics. His most famous novel, Confessions of a Mask, published in 1949, launched him into stardom. It’s a semi-autobiographical story of a...
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