Jiro Takamatsu, ‘Shadow No. 1439’, 1997, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
Jiro Takamatsu’s Shadow No. 1439, executed just a year before the artist’s death in 1998 is a stellar example of the late Japanese artist’s signature series of Shadow paintings, distinct in its depiction of the artist himself. A key member of the Mona-Ha movement and founder of the minimalist art collective Hi Red Center in post-war Tokyo, Takamatsu was influential in breaking the traditional boundaries between high art and everyday objects, working across the disciplines of painting, sculpture and photography. Conceived in 1964, Takamatsu’s Shadow series has become the artist’s most well-known body of work. In each painting, Takamatsu illustrates his subject’s shadow in trompe l’oeil fashion on bright white canvas.

In the present lot, the artist is shown seated on a stool in what appears to be a stance of contemplation, resting a hand on his chin. The artist rejects an individualized portrayal of his own body in the application of soft gray acrylic rendered in layers atop the white canvas, yet the stool on which he sits makes him appear as a staged subject. In what is likely the artist’s last self-portrait painted before his death, the work remains as one of the last vestiges of both the artist’s presence and hand, even more relevant so close to the date of his death.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed, titled and dated "JIRO TAKAMATSU 1997 No. 1439" on the reverse

Shadow Painting 1997, exh. cat., Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo, 1997 (illustrated)

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1997

About Jiro Takamatsu

Jiro Takamatsu was an influential artist, known for breaking down the boundaries between art and life in experimental art forms and guerrilla-style performances, in addition to sculpture, drawing, photography, and painting. Takamatsu was a founding member of the Hi Red Center collective alongside Genpei Akasegawa and Natsuyuki Nakanishi in 1963, and a key figure in the development of the Mono-Ha movement (the “school of things” associated with Lee Ufan). His most celebrated works were the “Shadow Paintings”, begun 1964, in which he painted the isolated shadows of solitary figures and items in delicate grey. These were inspired by images of shadows in 19th-century Japanese woodcuts, as well as the way in which screen doors capture the silhouettes.

Japanese, 1936-1998, Tokyo, Japan

Group Shows

New York,
For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979