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When You're So Far Ahead of Your Time, it Takes the Rest of Us Some Time to Catch Up. Then it Clicks

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

Tetsumi Kudo, 《Your Portrait》, 1963, Takamatsu City Museum of Art, photo: Akira Takahashi © ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2013

Not enough praise is given to Tetsumi Kudo for delving into topics and visual style nearly 60 years before they were everywhere. Regarded as a Neo-dada artist, Kudo is often accredited as one of the founder of the anti-art movement.


Three dimensional collage, regular objects of human interaction infused with a high chroma color palette pushing work past reality, reminiscent of technicolored films, the color is just too vibrant to be rooted in reality, mutated parts of human flesh and orifices make use of the seemingly toxic objects, radioactive vegetation entwined with lawn chairs and birdcages.

Tetsumi Kudo, 《Your Portrait ’67》, 1967, Aomori Museum of Art © ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2013


At the center of Kudo's work is the notion that technological advancements paired with the constant enticement to consume would inevitably pollute humanity. How communication with one another would become polluted and decayed. He depicted a mutated, radioactive reality as a result. It is common for galleries to offer only white walls and a gray floor, but when this work is placed in the sterile room the clinical aspect of the work is amplified. There is a feeling of examination. Kudo is studying this new reality. One that is color, playful, but dangerous. Vibrant colors walk the line between appealing and toxic. The objects become specimen. Recognizable elements of ourselves that become foreign and the subject of study due to our own behavior. We must not allow ourselves to lose our ability to communicate otherwise we will end up in an unrecognizable reality.

Tetsumi Kudo, Bonheur, painted cage, artificial soil, plastic flowers, cotton, plastic, polyester, resin, string, cigarettes, thermometer, Aspro tablets, circuit board, 21 x 11 x 14 inches, 1974.

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