Portrait of Tetsumi Kudo, August 20, 1981, © Shigeo Anzai.

Tetsumi Kudo, Your Portrait (Votre portrait), 1966, Painted wood case, cage, cotton, plastic, polyester, chains, receipts, tram tickets, condom, 29-1/2 x 29-1/2 x 29-1/2", Chiba City Museum of Art, Chiba, Japan, Photo courtesy Chiba City Museum of Art, Chiba, Japan.

An Internationalist and Humanist Tending a Garden of Change

Tetsumi Kudo during the happening Quiet Event-Observation, presented at Gallery M.E. Thelen, 1968.

Tetsumi Kudo, Pollution—Cultivation—New Ecology (Pollution—cultivation—nouvelle écologie), 1971-1972, wood, artificial flowers, artificial soil, cotton, plastic, polyester, adhesive, wire, transistors, snail shell, hair, mirror, paint 18-3/4 x 23-3/4 x 14-1/8 inches Collection de Bruin-Heijn
Photo courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery; Photo: Chris Burke.

Tetsumi Kudo, Cultivation for Nostalgic Purpose for Your Living Room (or Cultivation, for Melancholy, In Your Now), 1967-1968, Mixed media 17-5/16 x 23-1/4 x 12-5/8", Collection Aomori Museum of Art.


Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave.
Galleries 4, 5, 6
Tetsumi Kudo: Garden of Metamorphosis
October 18, 2008-January 11, 2009

The first solo U.S. museum exhibition of Japanese artist Tetsumi Kudo’s work includes some 70 works of diverse media and scale — objects, sculpture, installation, drawing, and painting — covering the entire trajectory of his career, from the late 1950s through the late 1980s. Also featured will be a study room, in which viewers can explore a timeline of the artist’s life and work and examine historical documentation, posters, and ephemera, as well as studies for some of his larger-scale works. Kudo was a rare artist who bridged many disparate artistic tendencies in the latter half of the 20th century — including French Nouveau Realisme, international Fluxus, Pop art, 1960s anti-art tendencies, and 1980s Japanese postmodernism — without specifically belonging to any of them.

Tetsumi Kudo (b. February 23, 1925, Hyogo-ken), Tetsumi Kudo studied oil painting at and graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in 1958. He was first noticed at the Yomiuri Independents exhibition.

In 1962, Kudo emigrated to France and lived there for the next 25 years. After his return to Japan, Kudo taught at Tokyo Art University from 1987 until his death in 1990. His strong concern for the human body, which he shows through his often grotesque work, bears many implications for modern society. We should, for example, react to his series which address the issue of radioactivity and environment.

He died November 11, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan.

Throughout his life and career he remained an eccentric and enigmatic figure in postwar art. In his stance and approach, temperament, and philosophy, the contemporary artists he perhaps shared most with were figures like Joseph Beuys, Paul Thek, James Lee Byars, and Yayoi Kusama. But the significance of Kudo’s work lies not only in art history but in postwar culture and thought more generally. Throughout his career, he remained particularly Japanese, while his art and vision were consistently and uniquely transcultural, international, and cosmopolitan. Deeply concerned with the fate of humanity in the wake of nuclear attacks on his native land and the dawn of the global arms race, Kudo sought to develop a universal humanist language of creativity and regeneration until his untimely death in 1990.

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

The exhibition is curated by Doryun Chong.

Tatsumi Kudo, Cultivation, 1968, artificial flower, flower pot, cotton, plastic, polyester, synthetic resin, artificial soil, artificial hair, vacuum tube 22-7/8 x 5-11/16 x 5-11/16 inches Aomori Museum of Art, Aomori, Japan, Photo courtesy Aomori Museum of Art, Aomori, Japan.

Tetsumi Kudo, Portrait d’artiste dans la crise, 1978, Mixed media 11-7/16 x 17-11/16 x 7-7/8", Collection Aomori Museum of Art.