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Shusaku Arakawa, Natural History ("..geometry of decision/the nature of taste or bullshit."), 1969-1972

Shusaku Arakawa
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Shusaku Arakawa

Natural History ("..geometry of decision/the nature of taste or bullshit."), 1969-1972

Lithograph on paper. Hand Signed. Numbered.Unframed
25 1/2 × 19 3/4 in
64.8 × 50.2 cm
Edition 26/200
Hand signed and numbered on lower right recto 
This great print by Arakawa published in 1969-1972 was chosen to be included in the 1975 portfolio for the Swiss Society for Fine Arts (Grafikmappe des Schweizerischen Kunstvereins) as part of an international portfolio of 27 prints by several world renowned artists. Hand signed and numbered from the edition of 200. Unframed and in fine condition. To the left of the text are numbers one-six (1-6) and the text reads:
"The length of decision/next to the selection of a mistake/geometry of decision/the nature of taste or bullshit."
It is classic Arakawa - an important example of his way of displacing sometimes cryptic words onto images as a form of artistic philosophy and performance. Shusaku Arakawa (荒川 修作 Arakawa Shūsaku, July 6, 1936 – May 18, 2010) who spoke of himself as an “eternal outsider” and “abstractionist of the distant future,” first studied mathematics and medicine at the University of Tokyo, and art at the Musashino Art University. He was a member of Tokyo’s Neo-Dadaism Organizers, a precursor to The Neo-Dada movement. Arakawa’s early works were first displayed in the infamous Yomiuri Independent Exhibition, a watershed event for postwar Japanese avant-garde art. Arakawa arrived in New York in 1961 with fourteen dollars in his pocket and a telephone number for Marcel Duchamp, whom he phoned from the airport and over time formed a close friendship. He started using diagrams within his paintings as philosophical propositions. Jean-Francois Lyotard has said of Arakawa’s work that it “makes us think through the eyes,” and Hans-Georg Gadamer has described it as transforming “the usual constancies of orientation into a strange, enticing game—a game of continually thinking out.” Quoting Paul Celan, Gadamer also wrote of the work: "There are songs to sing beyond the human." Arthur Danto has found Arakawa to be “the most philosophical of contemporary artists." For his part, Arakawa has declared: “Painting is only an exercise, never more than that.” Arakawa and Madeline Gins are co-founders of the Reversible Destiny Foundation, an organization dedicated to the use of architecture to extend the human lifespan. They have co-authored books, including Reversible Destiny, which is the catalogue of their Guggenheim exhibition, Architectural Body (University of Alabama Press, 2002) and Making Dying Illegal (New York: Roof Books, 2006). Arakawa's own feeling was that he was an artist ahead of his time. Despite his obsession with immortality and longevity, Arakawa died at the age of 74. This work is especially uncommon stateside.


Height:   25.50
Width:   19.75