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Artist: Kawashima, Takeshi 1 of 1

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Abstraction, 1964

Takeshi Kawashima

American, 1930-
Oil on canvas
overall: 100-1/2 x 80 in. (255.27 x 203.2 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick R. Weisman

Not on view

When Takeshi Kawashima moved from Tokyo to New York in 1963, he was 33 years of age. He was among a number of Japanese artists who immigrated to America due, in part, to the lack of a market for contemporary art and supporting venues to exhibit it in their homeland. Kawashima’s timing could not have been more auspicious, as new modes of picture-making—Color Field, Minimalism and Pop—won increased attention from critics and curators alike. His paintings from the 1960s demonstrate the meeting of his native artistic culture with that of his adopted country. In Kawashima’s large abstractions, a geometric grid imposes order over the painted field. Boldly drawn pictographs, reminiscent of mon (Japanese coats of arms), inhabit the interior squares. Variations between these organic, stylized motifs are subtle enough to create a distinctively decorative effect, enhanced by the lack of both painterly activity on the surface and compositional focus.

This painting is the left side of a triptych from Kawashima’s Red and Black Series. The center panel was included in MOMA’s 1965–66 exhibit “The New Japanese Painting and Sculpture” and was acquired by that museum. The right panel is in a private collection in Toronto, Canada.

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Artist: Kawashima, Takeshi 1 of 1