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  • Press release
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  • New York
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  • For immediate release
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  • 8 January 2020

RELEASE: Christie's Presents Two Exhibitions Featuring the Work of Tadaaki Kuwayama and Rakuko Naito

New York – Christie’s is very pleased to open 2020 with two separate private selling exhibitions featuring the work of internationally renowned artist Tadaaki Kuwayama and the ethereal and meditative work of Rakuko Naito, on view from January 8-17. Married for over 60 years, Kuwayama and Naito moved from Tokyo to New York in 1958, where they currently live and work. Keeping separate practices, each artist expresses a minimalist aesthetic using their own unique lens – Kuwayama being focused on mechanically manufactured surfaces that conceal the artist’s hand and Naito centering her practice on the possibilities of natural forms and the fragility of her chosen medium, rice paper. Being shown in adjacent galleries at Christie’s New York, the exhibitions will present a survey of each artist’s career.

 

Tadaaki Kuwayama

A purveyor of his own unique style of Minimalism, Tadaaki Kuwayama creates paintings and objects that become pure color, form, and presence in space. Lacking representation, hierarchy, or materiality, Kuwayama achieves a sense of objectivity and neutrality that studies the subtle variations of hue and their effects on space with his hand as hidden as possible. 

 

Born in Japan in 1932, Kuwayama originally studied nihonga, a traditional form of Japanese painting on either paper or silk that uses naturally derived pigments to emphasize outlines and tonal modulation. He later abandoned the practice finding its traditions too restrictive.

 

Alongside Donald Judd, Anne Truitt, and Mark DiSuvero, among others, Kuwayama came into a particular Minimalist movement that was more expressive than its predecessors, grappling with a sort of existential meaninglessness derived from the burgeoning materiality of consumer culture. While many of his contemporaries focused on developing new methods to reject or challenge consumerism, Kuwayama set himself apart by trying to find a way to become even more minimal.

 

Through the 1960s, Kuwayama evolved, refining his painting practice to explore concepts of three-dimensionality and incorporate industrial materials. The absoluteness of spray paint’s finish, in particular, led Kuwayama to create depth in his exploration of hue, layering colors atop each other without any mark of his hand. Through the 1970s, Kuwayama reincorporated materials—notably metallic pigment—that were specific to the fine arts to create a shimmering, continually changing surface. His ongoing series, Projects, began in the 1990s and uses site-specific installations to explore space and perception through works of identical color and dimension.

 

In 1961, Kuwayama had his first solo exhibition at Green Gallery, an uptown venue in New York known for showing the work of the downtown avant-garde. In 1966, he became part of his first major exhibition, New Shapes of Color at the Stedlijk Museum alongside Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella, Robert Indiana and Donald Judd. Other notable shows include solo exhibitions in Japan, Switzerland, and Germany. His works were also included in group exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

 

Works by Kuwayama are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark. Rakuko Naito's work is in the collections of the Aldrich Museum, Connecticut; the Kemper Art Collection, Chicago; and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Buenos Aires.

 

Rakuko Naito

Emanating a distinct meditative quality, Rakuko Naito’s works emphasize the contemplation integral to the Minimalism movement. With a high degree of stylization and concentration, her practice aligns with principles of order and arrangement.

 

Born in Japan in 1935, Naito graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts. After moving to New York in 1958, she created a series of Optical works in the 1960s. Her practice evolved through the 1970s and 1980s with the creation of her Flowers series, leading into her renowned Minimalist Paper series, which she started in the late 1990s.

 

Naito’s Paper series is quintessentially Japanese, utilizing kozo washi, a delicate paper, alongside other natural materials such as wood and cotton. Meticulously arranging her materials within a shallow box, she creates a geometric vision, presenting the solemn existence of the pure and a clear sense of traditional Japanese beauty.

 

Though her works resemble those of Mel Bochner, Eve Hesse, and Sol Lewitt, Naito resides within her own niche of Minimalism, emphasizing material and process in a way that reflects a deep sense of introspection. In showcasing the malleability and strength of her materials, Naito produces works of a dynamic yet delicate capacity, exemplary of a new, reimagined take on Minimalism.

 

Since 1965, Naito has held solo exhibitions both in the United States and abroad, including Switzerland, Germany, France, and Japan. Her works are collected by art galleries and institutions across the United States and Europe.

 

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: www.christies.com or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.