Sotheby’s To Present Yoshihara Jiro Collection – Full Circle

Sotheby’s Hong Kong is to present Full Circle – Yoshihara Jiro Collection, the first dedicated sale of works from the Yoshihara Jiro collection ever to appear on the market.

Part of the forthcoming Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2015, this assemblage features works of art both created and coveted by Yoshihara, the celebrated founder of Japan’s 20th-century avant-garde Gutai movement and a towering figure of post-war art history. The collection will also be shown in Singapore and Taipei.

The sale includes more than 20 pieces of Yoshihara’s original canvas, paper and ceramic works – many of them from his iconic Circle series, in addition to the late master’s collection of a Shiraga Kazuo painting. Previously in the artist’s personal collection, these works possess impeccable provenance, having never before been presented to the public.

Full Circle offers an unprecedented opportunity to understand and acquire important works exploring the contemporary master’s four decades of creation. Evelyn Lin, Head of Contemporary Asian Art, Sotheby’s, says: “Following the strong results achieved for works by Gutai artists in Sotheby’s salerooms, including the record-breaking price achieved for Shiraga Kazuo, Sotheby’s is excited to present a dedicated collection of works from legendary Gutai founder Yoshihara Jiro, for the first time at auction.

Dating from the mid-1930s to the early-1970s, Full Circle encompasses a comprehensive array of works rarely seen on the market, showcasing Yoshihara’s immaculate art, vision and taste, as well as his exploration on the circle motif in the later stage of his artistic career. At a time when Gutai has received much international acclaim on its art-historical contributions, we look forward to presenting the collection this autumn, as a much deserved tribute to the contemporary master.”

Yoshihara Jiro, Gutai and Circle Born in Osaka, Japan, Yoshihara Jiro (1905–1972) is the father of Gutai, an avant-garde art association he founded in 1954 that made major contributions to global art history of the post-war decades over its 18-year history. Not only as the leader but also a contributing member of Gutai, Yoshihara devised the enduring signature Circle in the mid-1960s, which stands out as his most significant achievement in post-war abstraction worldwide.

In 1955, just one year after Gutai was established, the group forayed into the international art scene via its eponymous journal Gutai 1, calling on the Western world for artistic exchange. In 1956, Yoshihara authored the ‘Gutai Art Manifesto’, defining the terms of engagement with the spirit, the body, and matter in new art. An experimentalist who was determined to revolutionise the post-war art world, Yoshihara pioneered the Gutai group with a vision of bringing it to the international stage, positioning it as an ‘international common ground’ for avant-garde art.

As an individual artist, Yoshihara developed the representative Circle series – works of large calligraphic circles painted on rich monochrome backgrounds of red, white and black that draw inspiration from Zen calligraphy, and bring to mind some similarities with the Western concept of geometric abstraction and the action paintings of American artist Jackson Pollock.

Gutai has experienced a surge of international attention in recent years, with curated exhibitions and retrospectives held at major museums worldwide placing spotlight on the art movement. Meaning ‘concreteness’, Gutai is synonymous with an uncompromising dedication to challenging convention, advocating an arts revival in a post-war period when new forms such as abstraction symbolised a momentous departure from wartime totalitarianism.

Gutai artists created and chronicled a critical moment in both national and international post-war art history through multimedia installations, performances and theatrical events. In 1972, the group disbanded when Yoshihara passed away, although members continued to create visually stunning works writhing with energy and vigour.


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