Tanaka joins in Gutai Art Association since 1955. With her “electric dress”, which is composed of bulbs with synthetic enamel paints, presented in Gutai Art on the Stage (1956), Tanaka enters the limelight. She gets this idea from electrical diagram, where uncounted circles are intertwined with lines. Tanaka uses consistently synthetic resin enamel as mediums. With its glossy matiéres and vivid colors, her creation shows outstanding presence. Tanaka is considered one of the represented figures of early period of GUTAI like Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga. Tanaka’s works are included in many exhibitions in USA and Europe.





The Influence of Gutai on Atsuko Tanaka and her trajectory after leaving the group
25/35 - GUTAI STILL ALIVE 2015 vol.1
Atsuko Tanaka and Akira Kanayama as an artist couple|Interviews with related parties
26/35 - GUTAI STILL ALIVE 2015 vol.1



The National Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo) / The Ashiya City Museum of Art & History / Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo) / Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art (Hyogo, Japan), etc.


Atsuko Tanaka Displaying "Electric Dress" at the 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition(Ohara Kaikan, Tokyo) 1956 ©︎Ryoji Ito
Atsuko Tanaka drawing a picture at home(myohoji), 1966, ©︎Ryoji Ito
Atsuko Tanaka standing in front of "Work" 1964(currently "Untitled" Museum of Modern Art, New York) at the venue of the 6th Exhibition of Contemporary Japanese Art (Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum) ©︎Ryoji Ito
Work, 1958, Vinyl paint on canvas, 223.8 x 183.5 cm / Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art(The Yamamura Collection) ©︎Ryoji Ito
Gate of hell, 1965-69, Vinyl paint on canvas, 331.5 x 245.5 cm / The National Museum of Art, Osaka ©︎Ryoji Ito
Thanks Sam, 1963, Vinyl paint on canvas, 226.0 x 194.0cm / Chiba City Museum of Art ©︎Ryoji Ito
'87H, 1987, Vinyl paint on canvas, 193.7 x 257.5 cm / Ashiya City Museum of Art & History ©︎Ryoji Ito
'94B, 1994, Vinyl paint on canvas, 300.0 x 510.0 cm / Toyota Municipal Museum of Art ©︎Ryoji Ito
Work, 1955, Rayon, 1000 x 1000 cm / 2007 reconstructed for the documenta 12, Kassel Germany, Photo by Mizuho Kato


Tanaka was born on February 10th, as a fifth female children of the father, Ishimatsu and mother Tami, in Osaka. (Tanaka had four older sisters and four older brothers).
Studied at the Osaka Municipal Institute of Art. Akira Kanayama and Kazuo Shiraga were her fellow students.
Entered the Kyoto Municipal College of Art (now known as Kyoto City University of Arts). However, Tanaka left the college in the autumn of the same year to re-enter the Osaka Municipal Institute of Art. She began making abstract painting on Kanayama's advice.
Tanaka was hospitalized and stayed in there for a while. In anticipation of the days left until her return to home, Tanaka wrote numbers and drew along their contours with oil pastel. She reflected on this moment by saying that this was the first time she perceived the concept of art. After she returned to home, she made a series of collages with the motif of numbers, such as Calender. Tanaka became a member of the artist's group Zero(Zero-kai), formed by the young innovative artists including Akira Kanayama, Kazuo Shiraga and Saburo Murakami.
Major members of the group Zero associated with the Gutai group, an avant-garde artist's group led by Jiro Yoshihara. At the Experimental Outdoor Exhibition of Modern Art to Challenge the Midsummer Sun (held in Ashiya park, Hyogo), Tanaka exhibited an installation work made of 10m square of pink artificial silk-rayon hanging from the 30cm above the ground. Tanaka presented the work Work(Bell) at the 1st Gutai Art Exhibition (held at Ohara hall, Tokyo). The Work(Bell) comprises twenty electric alarm bells to activate a sequence of ringings.
At the Outdoor Gutai Art Exhibition (held in Ashiya park, Hyogo), Tanaka exhibited the work Stage Clothes made of seven giant human forms placed in a row, equipped with blinking light bulbs and human or cross-shaped work the front of which was covered with flickering light bulbs. At the 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition (held at Ohara hall, Tokyo) on the same year, Tanaka presented Electric Dress, a dress literally made of light bulbs and tube lumps.
At the Gutai Art on the Stage(Sankei Kaikan hall, Osaka / Sankei Hall, Tokyo), Tanaka presented the performance work Stage Clothes consisting of three electric dresses in addition to the other works made with stage dresses changing color and shape in an unexpected manner. Around this time, Tanaka developed her work style which comprised with entangled light bulbs and their codes into two-dimensional drawings.
Atsuko Tanaka Solo Exhibition was held at the Gutai Pinacotheca in Osaka. Drawings inspired by her work Electric Dress and the work Three Black Balls were included in this exhibition.
Tanaka's work Thanks, Sam was included for the exhibition Guggenheim International Award
(Guggenheim Museum, New York). At the 6th Contemporary Art Exhibition (held at Tokyo metropolistan Art Museum and other places) of Japan, Tanaka's work Untitled received an award of excellence.
Exhibition The New Japanese Painting and Sculpture was held at the San Francisco Museum of Art, toured to The Museum of Modern Art, New York and other museums in America. Her work Untitled(1964) was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Tanaka and Kanayama left the Gutai group. Around this time, her condition was not well, and she subsequently married Kanayama, who was a good supporter of her.
A performance work Round on Sand was shown in Awaji Island. The performance was held on the beach to draw on sand.
Moved from Osaka city to Asuka-mura, Takaichi-gun in Nara prefecture, seeking the quiet environment.
Exhibition Japon des avant gardes, 1910 - 1970 (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris) included her drawings inspired by her own work Work(Bell), Electric Dress, and Eletric Dress.
Presented the work made of pink rayon and such to the 45th Venice Biennale, Passage to Orient.
Tanaka's first major retrospective exhibition Atsuko Tanaka: Search for an Unknown was held at the Ashiya City Museum of Art & History. The exhibition toured to the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Shizuoka. Four works were reconstructed: the work made of pink rayon, Work(Bell), Stage Clothes, and a cross-shaped work.
Died in Nara city due to pneumonia.
The work made of pink rayon and Electric Dress and some other works were displayed at Documenta 12 (Fridericianum Museum, Germany).
Tanaka's works: Work(Bell), Spring 1966 were included at the 16th Biennale of Sydney, Revolutions - Forms That Turn, Sydney (Art Gallery of New South Wales). Exhibition Rose is a Rose is a Rose: Yayoi Kusama, Atsuko Tanaka, Tsuruko Yamazaki (Foundation De Elf Lijnen, Oudenburg, Belgium), was held including Work(Bell) and some others.
The work Pink Rayon hung on the wall and Work(Bell) was featured at the 53th Venice Biennale.
A major retrospective show Atsuko Tanaka: The Art of Connecting (Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK / Espai d'Art Contemporani de Castello, Spain / Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo) was held with approximately a hundred of selected works of Tanaka which includes Calendar, Work(Bell), and Electric Dress.



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