Work (Bell)


Atsuko Tanaka ( Japanese, 1932 - 2005 )

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General Description

In the aftermath of World War II, many young artists in Japan—as in Europe and the United States—challenged themselves to rethink their inherited artistic and pictorial traditions. Recognizing this growing cultural foment, in 1954 the painter Jiro Yoshihara rallied together a number of such artists in Osaka to start the avant-garde group known as the Gutai Art Association, of which Atsuko Tanaka was a member between 1955 and 1965. Inspired by Yoshihara’s ambitious calls to “create what has never existed before,” the association of Gutai artists produced experimental work using unusual materials and techniques such as throwing bottles of paint, wrestling in mud, and breaking through paper screens, which often took place in unconventional settings such as the outdoors and on stage.

Work (Bell) is an interactive conceptual sculpture that Tanaka described as “painting with sound.” Arranged on the floor, the work consists of a series of electric bells attached to a long, snaking cord, echoing the composition of Tanaka’s many colorful works on canvas of interconnected networks and hubs. At the top of every hour, the gallery attendant will press the button, triggering a series of shrill electric bells to ring sequentially throughout the exhibition space.

Excerpt from

Gabriel Ritter, Label text, Never Enough: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Art, 2014.

Fun Facts

  • The original sculpture created in 1955 was lost and reconstructed in 2000.