October 25, 2012

Ushio ShinoharaShinohara Pops! The Avant-Garde Road, Tokyo/New York

Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz
Ushio Shinohara, Boxing Painter, 2011. Mixed media, 67½ x 102½ inches. Courtesy of Ethan Cohen Fine Arts and the artist.

Co-curated by Hiroko Ikegami and Reiko Tomii, Shinohara Pops! The Avant-Garde Road, Tokyo/New York is the first major museum retrospective of Ushio Shinohara in North America. It consists of some seventy paintings, sculptures, works on paper, ephemera, and a video documentary and surveys the five-decade career that straddles the Pacific Ocean and spans the years from 1958 to the present.

Born in Tokyo in 1932, Shinohara emerged as a central figure in the avant-garde art scene in his hometown Tokyo in 1958. From then onward, he has relentlessly pursued The Avant-Garde Road, as he titled his 1968 autobiography, while inventing one key signature series after another. His preferred mode of operation is appropriation in the broadest possible sense. In his Tokyo days, he distilled the spirit of “action painting,” imitated American Pop Art, and absorbed the iconography and narratives of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblocks. Once in New York, he portrayed chaotic New York street motifs, rediscovered the history of traditional Japanese painting, and tilled the fertile ground of popular culture. His favored materials are frequently cheap or junk or both, ranging from torn bamboo stalks to cardboard boxes to Bubblicious gum. What he creates—the images he makes and the stories he narrates—is at once outrageous and accessible, unruly and gorgeous, fast-moving and unforgettable.

An inventive image-maker, Shinohara offers us the engaging, compelling, and challenging case of a diaspora artist who has proven to be an indispensable player in global art history. Shinohara Pops! explores his image-making endeavors through a focused look at each stage of his career—from Early Works to his signature series of “Boxing Painting”, “Imitation Art”, “Oiran”, “Motorcycle Sculpture”, and” Frogs”—as well as an examination of his works on paper and a comparative study with ukiyo-e.

Lead curator Hiroko Ikegami is Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies at Kobe University. An art historian who specializes in American art and the postwar globalization of the art world, she has authored The Great Migrator: Robert Rauschenberg and the Global Rise of American Art (MIT Press, 2010). She has collaborated with Reiko Tomii, a New York-based independent scholar who investigates post-1945 Japanese art in global and local contexts. Her extensive publications include her contributions to Globalization and Contemporary Art (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) and Xu Bing (Albion Editions, 2011). Together they have brought their art-historical and curatorial insights to the oeuvre of Shinohara, who has been underappreciated in his adopted home.

A fully illustrated 128-page exhibition catalogue, with essays by two curators and Michael Lobel, is available from the State University of New York Press.

Ongoing support for museum exhibitions and programs provided by the Friends of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art and the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Major funding provided by The Japan Foundatoin and the Friends of Shinohara Pops!

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 11am to 5pm, except during campus holidays. Admission is free, with a 5 USD suggested donation. For more information, please contact the museum at [email protected] or visit

Also on view at the museum are Dear Mother Nature: Hudson Valley Artists 2012, curated by Linda Weintraub (through November 4, 2012) and Russel Wright: The Nature of Design, curated by Donald Albrecht and Dianne Pierce (through December 16, 2012).


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