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Posted on Thu, May 27, 2010 : 2:14 p.m.

Avant-garde postwar public art in Japan on display at University of Michigan Museum of Art

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Our last opportunity to go on a docent guided tour of the Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan, 1950-1970 exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Art is at 2 p.m. Sunday. The exhibit is only up until June 6, so we do not have much time left to see this fascinating exhibit of avant-garde postwar public art in Japan.

From UMMA:

Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art highlights a dynamic phase of avant-garde art in postwar Japan characterized by self-reflection and multimedia experimentation. From 1950 to 1970, numerous artistic groups emerged, notably Gutai Art Association, Group Ongaku, Fluxus/Tokyo Fluxus, Neo Dada, Hi Red Center, Vivo, Provoke, Intermedia, and Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T).

Artists associated with these innovative groups tested the definition and practice of art by producing objects and ephemera that combined a variety of traditional and new media, including sound improvisation, language, performance, photography, video, and an expanded notion of sculpture. The artists collaborated beyond the boundaries of collectives, artistic genres, and conventional exhibition spaces, often presenting their work in the streets, temporary theaters and other public spheres. In addition, the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and the Japan World Exposition in 1970 contributed to the emergence of Japan as a center of international contemporary culture and the arts.

This exhibition has been organized by the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. The exhibition and related programs are made possible in part by the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies and the Department of the History of Art.

The University of Michigan Museum of Art is at 525 S. State St.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for, and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at, her blog at, and she can be reached at