Tsuruko Yamazaki ( Japanese, 1928 )
As the longest-standing female member of the Gutai collective, Tsuruko Yamazaki was a pivotal figure in the Japanese avant-garde movement. She sought to “create what has never been created before” using nontraditional materials, and believed in
“an active engagement between the human spirit and materials, and the rediscovery of beauty in sites of ruin and decay.” In 1957 Yamazaki began making two-dimensional works with tin.
To produce her Work series, of which this piece is an example, Yamazaki flattened sheets of tin into a canvas-like shape, and
then streaked, scraped, and stained aniline dye across its surface in a demonstration of gestural freedom. Yamazaki’s
application of luminous pinks, purples, and earth tones highlights the work’s base materiality. Her adventurous use of materials, taken from the street to reflect everyday life, echoes with Robert Rauschenberg’s contemporaneously produced Combine paintings. At the same time, her investigation of new mediums to stand in for traditional oil paint resonates with the American color field painters’ interest in and experimentations with thinners, polymers, and the then-newly produced acrylic paints.
Jeffrey Grove, Label copy, _Difference?, _2012.