The Japan Society of Manhattan explores artist Kazuko Miyamoto’s relationship with his studio Architecture

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The Japan Society of Manhattan explores artist Kazuko Miyamoto’s relationship with his studio Architecture

Recreating the artist’s studio in an exhibition has always been a challenge for curators and exhibition designers – bringing in the right amount of ‘mess’, intricately revealing how art works and maintaining visual consistency. are all boxes to tick while leaving the audience behind the curtain. Kazuko Miyamoto: To interpret a line, the Japan Society’s survey of the artist’s five-decade career in sculpture, drawing and performance solves this challenge in a way that is both practical and poetic.

Courtesy of Japanese SocietyKazuko Miyamoto, Archway to Cellar, PS1 Installation, 1978. Image © Kazuko Miyamoto.  Courtesy of the artist;  EXILE, ViennaKazuko Miyamoto, Archway to Cellar, PS1 Installation, 1978. Image © Kazuko Miyamoto.  Courtesy of the artist;  EXILE, ViennaKazuko Miyamoto.  Untitled.  1973, Installation at the Penthouse of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Image © Kazuko Miyamoto.  Courtesy of the artist;  EXILE, Vienna+ 10

Miyamoto’s string construction series combines the simplicity of its two materials – wire and nail – with the visual appeal of their seemingly impossible harmonious assembly. Countless repetitive lines of thread are affixed to the wall and floor in mind-blowing compositions that gently claim the space while enticing the audience to notice their weight and craftsmanship. Miyamoto originally made these three-dimensional designs in two different studios in midtown Manhattan in the early 1970s. The Japanese-born artist affixed hardware nails to his wooden floors and walls, weaving industrial twine used for wrapping meat in both directions. In a first example, Untitled (1973), she followed the mortar lines of a brick wall for more precision; her progression in three dimensions in later years required her to use a scale and instructions in order to recreate the pieces elsewhere.

Kazuko Miyamoto with his assistant creating string constructions in his studio at 181 Chrystie Street, 1970s. Image Courtesy of the artist and Zürcher Gallery, New York/Paris
Kazuko Miyamoto with his assistant creating string constructions in his studio at 181 Chrystie Street, 1970s. Image Courtesy of the artist and Zürcher Gallery, New York/Paris

Miyamoto started the series a decade after leaving Japan for the United States and studying painting at the Arts Student League. During the minimalist boom of the 70s, she focused on the potential of male-dominated movement with light, space and gesture – the constructions of threads and nails reveal her interest in creating subtle marks in space through laborious gestures. A longtime assistant and close friend of conceptual artist Sol Lewitt, a 1981 black-and-white photograph shows Miyamoto naked and standing on her shoulders in front of LeWitt’s grid sculptures. This opening image from the exhibition at the Japan Society sets the tone by highlighting the artist’s intuitive fusion of corporeality and minimalist art, not to mention his satire of the heady exclusivity of the era. .

“To maintain the integrity and intent of the series while capturing the studio milieu of avant-garde artists of the time,” were the goals of exhibition curator Tiffany Lambert who invited the studio of industrial design Ransmeier Inc. to recreate the sculptures at Japan The company’s galleries. “Miyamoto integrated the architecture of his surroundings, especially his studio spaces,” she adds.

Courtesy of Japanese Society
Courtesy of Japanese Society

Introducing the immediacy of the works on the institution’s concrete floors required the design of hardwood platforms that elevate the detail of each construction and salute their site of origin. “We decided to create a small floor to interact with the architectural element of each work”, explains Leon Ransmeier. “Difficult and slightly violent,” are the words the designer uses to explain the ten-day installation process, “which involved hours of hammering and attention to capture the atmospheric light of the structures.” Male and Femalecreated by Miyamoto in 1974 and 1977 respectively, show black wires running through the white wall and wooden platforms with kinetic energy, both strongly contained and explosive.

Ransmeier Inc. first dabbled in exhibit design with a display of Eames products in Herman Miller’s downtown showroom and the Armory Show’s Artforum lounge, but the installation of Miyamoto’s kimono series also called upon their experience in point-of-sale design. “We combined our familiarity with textile hanging systems with research into kimono hangers,” says Ransmeier. “We created a dry counterpoint to highlight the very personal texts and images of the textiles as well as their artifact quality.”

Portrait of the artist, date unknown.  Image © Kazuko Miyamoto.  Courtesy of the artist and Zürcher Gallery, New York/Paris
Portrait of the artist, date unknown. Image © Kazuko Miyamoto. Courtesy of the artist and Zürcher Gallery, New York/Paris

The third gallery of the exhibition displays the kimonos that the artist made with objects found between the 1980s and 2000 on metal assemblies made by industrial extrusion. From a textured dress created with folded Japanese newspaper (1990) to an iron-on family heirloom with an image of Miyamoto naked on a ladder (1987), kimonos, along with string constructions, according to Lambert, “speak to a performance towards a minimal language and strategies of different geometries, materiality and repetition.

This article originally appeared on Metropolis Magazine.



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