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Capital of Un-Commerce

By Ashley Rawlings

Recognized for its history of pioneering, experimental contemporary art and once an international art-market destination, how did Tokyo lose its centrality in the region?

Illustrations by Riccardo Fano.

For decades Japan was the primary source of and destination for innovative contemporary art in East Asia. The period from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s was a relay race of avant-garde movements, from the visceral experimentation of the Gutai Art Association to the absurdist happenings of the Neo-Dada Organizers and Hi-Red Center, followed by the austere, beguiling installations…

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