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6. Nobuyoshi Araki

Nobuyoshi Araki was born in 1940 in Tokyo. He is famous for his provocative and edgy photographs. His photographs have a natural but voyeuristic style. His photographs also pick up on some of the kinkier and more erotic side of Japanese culture picturing many scenes of bondage and eroticism. If you are interested take a look at his work online but be prepared to see a lot of nudity.

7. Atsuko Tanaka

Atsuko Tanaka is famous for her electric dress from 1956 (pictured above as it was reconstructed in the 1980s). Can you imagine how groundbreaking and cutting edge this kind of sculpture would have been in the 1950s? It is very impressive that Japan has produced so many impressive and internationally recognized female artists. This type of work also prefaces the vast output of technology and media-based art that would come from Japan in the following decades.

Dumbtype is a lesser-known but very avant-garde and important group of Japanese artists. They responded to some of the social conditions of the 1980s by creating interactive performances incorporating sound, movement, visuals, and technology in a groundbreaking way. Unfortunately, some of the founding members succumbed to AIDS but their performances live on and are still enacted around the world in special performances.

9. Ryoji Ikeda

Another artist to pick up on the themes of technology, sound, and installation is Ryoji Ikeda. Ikeda works in the field of new media art, a genre of art that has become more and more important in the art world over the last couple of decades. Ikeda has been influential in bringing these large-scale new media installations to the world with his site-specific work in museums all over the world. Ikeda’s works are vast in scale and include the latest in sound engineering that can create sound waves that actually create physical and emotional experiences in the viewers.

10. Open Reel Ensemble

Continuing on the tradition of groundbreaking Japanese art, a whole new generation of artists are making waves in the media art scene worldwide. One of the latest of these is Wada Ei’s Open Reel Ensemble. This group of creative artists and musicians repurposes older instruments and audio equipment like the tape reels from the 1960s to harmoniously create a whole new sound that is updated for today.

Painting, photography, conceptual art, and media art continue to be dominant fields for Japanese artists today. These also happen to be some of my favorite genres of art. In the next article we will take a closer look at some of the art stars in each of these genres and keep you up to date on the latest developments in contemporary art from Japan.

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