Jiro Yoshihara


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(b Osaka, 1 Jan. 1905; d Ashiya, 10 Feb. 1972).

Japanese painter and entrepreneur. He was a wealthy industrialist and was mainly self-taught as an artist. During the 1930s he was a pioneer of abstract art in Japan, and in 1957 he won first prize at the Tokyo Biennial. His paintings of this time are ‘a sophisticated mixture of Eastern and Western modes. They mingle Zen…with things learned from American Abstract Expressionism’ (Edward Lucie-Smith, Visual Arts in the Twentieth Century, 1996). Yoshihara was also the central figure of the Gutai Group (devoted mainly to Performance art), which he founded in Osaka in 1954 and sustained with his wealth for the rest of his life. The group's work included Action Paintings produced through highly unconventional means (1955–6): one member painted with his feet while hanging from a rope, for example, and another used a remote-controlled model car rigged with a can of paint. The group held numerous exhibitions and published fourteen issues of its magazine before breaking up following Yoshihara's death.

Subjects: Art.

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