Archives
of Women Artists
Research
& Exhibitions

Soutenir AWARE

Review

Takako Saito: playful art

22.06.2019 |

Takako Saito, Spielkopf, 1986-1987, exhibition view Takako Saito, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (8 March – 22 September 2019), © ADAGP, Paris, © Photo: Arthur Péquin

The CAPC musée d’Art contemporain of Bordeaux is presenting the first major retrospective exhibition in France devoted to the work of Japanese artist Takako Saito (born 1929), active since the beginning of the 1960s.

Takako Saito: playful art - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Takako Saito, A flower A, B, C, 1993 and Ohne Titel, 1992, exhibition view Takako Saito, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (8 March – 22 September 2019), © ADAGP, Paris, © Photo: Arthur Péquin

Takako Saito: playful art - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view Takako Saito, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (8 March – 22 September 2019), © ADAGP, Paris, © Photo: Arthur Péquin

Self-taught T. Saito was discovered by George Maciunas (1931–1978) after her arrival in New York in 1963. Her performative practice and interest in games allowed her to quickly integrate into the Fluxus movement, although she never claimed adherence to the group. In 1968, she settled in France, where she worked with George Brecht (1926–2008) and Robert Filliou (1926–1987). After a stint in England in 1973, then in Italy from 1975 to 1979, she moved to Germany, where she settled permanently in Düsseldorf at the end of 1979.

T. Saito’s multidisciplinary and abundant œuvre navigates between performance, installation, and artisanal practices with disconcerting ease. With a selection of more than 400 works, curators Alice Motard, Eva Schmidt and Johannes Stahl have given free reign to the artist to design the scenography of the exhibition herself. The presentation is not chronological, but rather proceeds through ensembles, divided between the two galleries of the museum.

Takako Saito: playful art - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view Takako Saito, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (8 March – 22 September 2019), © ADAGP, Paris, © Photo: Arthur Péquin

Starting in the first rooms, the visitor dives into the recreational universe of T. Saito, quickly understanding that her works are conceived as objects that “perform”, alternately summoning poetry, humour, and, more precisely, playfulness, inherited from her involvement with the group Creative Art Education.1 However, if the forms are extremely varied – from clothing to books, sculptures and paintings – her work as an ensemble is not devoid of coherence, quite the contrary.

Takako Saito: playful art - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Takako Saito, Smell Music Box for Charlotte Moorman, 1993, Collection Heinrich W. Risken Stiftung, Bad Rothenfeld, Allemagne, exhibition view Takako Saito, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (8 March – 22 September 2019), © ADAGP, Paris, © Photo: Arthur Péquin

Throughout the exhibition, several elements appear to serve as leitmotifs for the Japanese artist: the game of chess (series Flux Chess : Liquor Chess, 1975 ; Spice Chess, 1977; A Chess Set, 1996), the ladder, the human body, and books. The most remarkable part of the exhibition is that which is dedicated to books, a medium the artist developed during her time spent in England. Within her body of work, books appear in many forms: from simple stacks of paper bound by tea filters or doilies, to leporello2 or even box formats, including a tree trunk filled with corks behind which the text is hidden. This ensemble of works reveals the inventive, meticulous and fabulously poetic craftsmanship of T. Saito.

Takako Saito: playful art - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

In the foreground: Takako Saito, You and me shop N°1, 1994, exhibition view Takako Saito, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (8 March – 22 September 2019), © ADAGP, Paris, © Photo: Arthur Péquin

The most thrilling part of this presentation is undoubtedly its performative and playful character, which is found throughout the exhibition and culminates in the second part with the joyfully regressive and emblematic pieces of the artist’s work, the Shops (You and Me Shop No. 1, 1994; Newspaper Stand, 2000). Before these stands with red and black awnings, the visitor is invited to produce a work alone or in collaboration with T. Saito, to activate the exchange process and highlight that without the “players”, these works would be hard to place within the artistic field.

Thanks to this exhibition, T. Saito – who recently celebrated her 90th birthday – reminds us of the great pleasure that can be found in contemporary art, which can be playful, joyful and, most importantly, accessible to all.

 

Takako Saito, from 9 March to 22 September 2019 at CAPC musée d’Art Contemporain (Bordeaux, France).

Translated from French by Katia Porro.

1
A Japanese artistic movement created in 1952 by Sadajiro Kubo (1909–1996), who advocated for the free expression of play in all of its forms.

2
A leporello is a book that is folded in an accordion-pleat style technique.

Index
Linked artist
How to cite this article:
Mathilde Bartier, "Takako Saito: playful art." In Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions magazine, . URL : https://awarewomenartists.com/en/magazine/takako-saito-ou-lart-ludique/. Accessed 19 November 2019
Haut de page
110 boulevard Saint Germain 75006 Paris (France) — info[at]aware-art[.]org — +33 (0)1 55 26 90 29