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Shusaku Arakawa was born in 1936 in Nagoya, Japan. He briefly studied medicine at the University of Tokyo and also attended the Musashino Art University in Tokyo. Arakawa became active as an artist and activist in 1960, joining a Neo-Dada group in Tokyo and protesting against American military bases in Japan. He moved to New York in 1961 where he met and married the American poet and philosopher, Madeline Gins, his lifelong collaborator. Arakawa also met and worked closely with Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and other esteemed innovators in conceptual art. By 1970, Arakawa was exhibiting internationally and creating works in many different forms. He continued to produce work, especially collaborations on large-scale projects with Madeline Gins throughout his lifetime. Arakawa passed away in 2010.
This suite of etchings debuted at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts and Multiples in New York in October of 1976. Arakawa had shown works from his famed series, The Mechanism of Meaning, at the Venice Biennale in 1970 and continued working along this vein in the early 1970s. The Signified or If shows Arakawa’s growing interest in longer, probing text in his work, including phrases like “It disappeared or disappearance became it just as previously the signified had disappeared into it”. The suite showcases Arakawa’s use of diagrams to layer symbols, signs, and text in a single piece, especially with straight lines reaching across and striking through other forms. These radiant lines became signature of Arakawa’s work in the mid 1970s, creating elaborate puzzles of visual information. The Signified or If brings together an understanding of the given materials of our world, or the ‘Signified,’ and individual perceptions and interpretations of it all, or the ‘If’.
Please click on portfolio below to see images of entire suite.
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