Sadamasa Motonaga

6 Nov 2015 – 30 Jan 2016

Fergus McCaffrey

New York
New York, United States


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Fergus McCaffrey’s Sadamasa Motonaga exhibition presents the artist’s revolutionary
late paintings, which established him as the godfather of Japanese manga art.


Fergus McCaffrey is proud to present the gallery’s second solo exhibition of the work of Sadamasa Motonaga (1922–2011). The exhibition features works created after the artist’s residency in New York in 1966 and the dissolution of the Gutai group in 1972.
Not only was Sadamasa Motonaga one of the central figures in the Gutai Art Association (1954–72), but he also broke down the barriers between manga, graffiti, and fine art to open up a dialogue between high and low culture in Japan, preparing the ground for the Superflat generation of the 1990s.

Motonaga’s late works have taken decades to come to the attention of the West; however, the influence of these post-1966 works in Japan has been extremely profound, and his images are among the most recognizable in Japanese pop culture. Motonaga considered his paintings, children’s books, public artworks, and sculptural installations to be equal, and his work was critically and commercially embraced. The first of his twenty-six children’s books was released in 1973, and several of these have been in print continuously since their publication. Included in our 2015 exhibition are his original drawings for 'Moko MokoMoko', a children’s book with more than one million copies in circulation in Japan.

Of particular note in Fergus McCaffrey’s exhibition will be an installation of Motonaga’s 'Work (Water)', which he first enacted in 1956 at the legendary Outdoor Gutai Art Exhibition in Ashiya, Japan. Made from colored water and plastic tubing, 'Work (Water)' will be installed along the gallery’s entire 26th Street facade; it is a variant of the acclaimed 'Work (Water)' installation that entirely filled the atrium space at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum during its 2013 Gutai retrospective.

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Exhibiting artists

Sadamasa Motonaga


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