Kazuo Shiraga

  • Born 1924 in Amagasaki, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan
  • Died 2008 in Amagasaki, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan
  • Asia

Kazuo Shiraga became interested in oil painting when he was only fourteen years old. He studied at Kaiga no Kyōtofu Tachi gakkō (Kyōto Prefectural School of Painting) from 1942 to 1948, majoring in traditional nihonga painting. Possibly inspired by the works of Jackson Pollock (at Yomiuri dokuritsu-ten [Yomiuri Independent Exhibition], Tokyo, 1951), he began his unique approach of action painting: In 1953 he abandoned the brush in favor of painting directly with his hands. He co-founded the Zero-kai (Zero Society) in 1952, and in 1955 joined the avant-garde Gutai Art Association and performed Challenging Mud at the group’s first exhibition. Here, Kazuo Shiraga used his whole body to sculpt a pile of mud. His rebellious, direct approach resulted in his famous practice of painting with his feet. To do so, he dripped paint onto the canvas and, using his feet while swinging from a rope, painted multi-textured layers in broad strokes. Through his association with Gutai (1955–1972), his work was shown across Japan. In 1957 the French curator and collector Michel Tapié (1909–1987) noticed Kazuo Shiraga’s work and introduced it to the European art market. His first solo show in Europe was at the Musée National d'Art Moderne (National Museum of Modern Art), Paris (1986), and he received the Osaka Art Prize in 2002.

Artworks by Kazuo Shiraga in the exhibition