This extremely rare screenprint with collage elements features stenciled and handwritten words, erasures and other marks to question the ways we perceive and the ways we make meaning. It was created as part of a six part series Arakawa did titled "NO! SAYS THE SIGNIFIED", published by the GraphicStudio at the University of South Florida, Tampa and printed by Multiples. Inc. This work is part of an important series that was the subject of a major lecture and exhibition at the Portland Art Museum in Maine. It is classic Arakawa - an important example of his way of displacing sometimes cryptic words onto images as a form of artistic philosophy and performance.
22 1/4 x 30 inches (Sheet alone)
23 x 30 1/2 x 1 1/4 in. (Frame)
Shusaku Arakawa (荒川 修作 Arakawa Shūsaku, July 6, 1936 – May 18, 2010) who spoke of himself as an “eternal outsider” and “abstractionist of the distant future,” first studied mathematics and medicine at the University of Tokyo, and art at the Musashino Art University. He was a member of Tokyo’s Neo-Dadaism Organizers, a precursor to The Neo-Dada movement. Arakawa’s early works were first displayed in the infamous Yomiuri Independent Exhibition, a watershed event for postwar Japanese avant-garde art. Arakawa arrived in New York in 1961 with fourteen dollars in his pocket and a telephone number for Marcel Duchamp, whom he phoned from the airport and over time formed a close friendship. He started using diagrams within his paintings as philosophical propositions. Jean-Francois Lyotard has said of Arakawa’s work that it “makes us think through the eyes,” and Hans-Georg Gadamer has described it as transforming “the usual constancies of orientation into a strange, enticing game—a game of continually thinking out.” Quoting Paul Celan, Gadamer also wrote of the work: "There are songs to sing beyond the human." Arthur Danto has found Arakawa to be “the most philosophical of contemporary artists." For his part, Arakawa has declared: “Painting is only an exercise, never more than that.” Arakawa and Madeline Gins are co-founders of the Reversible Destiny Foundation, an organization dedicated to the use of architecture to extend the human lifespan. They have co-authored books, including Reversible Destiny, which is the catalogue of their Guggenheim exhibition, Architectural Body (University of Alabama Press, 2002) and Making Dying Illegal (New York: Roof Books, 2006).
Although this mixed media multiple was published in a stated edition of 40, the last time we found it to have appeared at public auction was back in 2003. His works don't often appear stateside. This particular text collage from 1973 - which ends with the phrase "The signified or if he left suddenly without a word" is physical confirmation of Arakawa's own feeling that he was an artist ahead of his time.
This work is in excellent condition and is elegantly floated and framed in the original 1970s handmade Kulicke frame. (In the 1960s and 70s, Kulicke was the framer of record for the major artists, museums and public and private institutions of the era). The frame also bears the Kulicke label and inventory number verso (see photos). A rare and desirable find!
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Series: NO! SAYS THE SIGNIFIED
Signature: Pencil signed and numbered 34 from the edition of 40 lower right recto (front); the work also bears the distinctive blindstamps of the publisher and printer respectively (recto). It is held in the original iconic 1970s Kulicke frame with the Kulicke label verso.
About Shusaku Arakawa
Japanese, 1936-2010, Japan, based in Japan