Kazuko Miyamoto, 'Male I', 1974 String, nails, wooden board, approx. 158.5 x 158.5 x 61 cm Image: Damian Griffiths


Kazuko Miyamoto, 'Stunt (181 Chrystie Street, 1981)', 1982 Unique photocopy made out of approximately 44 pieces of various sizes, 150 x 97 cm Image courtesy EXILE, Berlin


Kazuko Miyamoto, 'Untitled', 1971 Rubber and nails on painted wood, 86 x 72 cm Image: Damian Griffiths


Kazuko Miyamoto, 'Well', 1973 Wood and acrylic paint, 76 x 76 x 46 cm Image: Damian Griffiths


Kazuko Miyamoto, 'Untitled (model for a string construction)', 1971 Industrial cotton string, nails and painted wood, 35.7 × 69 × 17 cm Image courtesy EXILE, Berlin


Kazuko Miyamoto, 'Box', 1975 Pencil and sumi ink on paper, 27.2 x 34.8 cm Image courtesy EXILE, Berlin

Kazuko Miyamoto

Kazuko Miyamoto (b. 1942, Tokyo) is a preeminent feminist figure of Minimalism, and a pioneer of a new and radically warm brand of rigorous abstraction, introducing handmade, irregular, and intimate elements, in dialogue with the movement’s visual language.

Miyamoto studied art at the Gendai Bijutsu Kenkyujo (Contemporary Art Research Studio), Tokyo, and later moved to New York in 1964 to attend The Arts Student League of New York, located in Manhattan (1964­–1968). During those years she supported herself by working in various cafés, bars, and restaurants, where she met many of the main figures of the Minimalist art movement in the city’s music and art scene of the time. In 1968 she got her first studio, located on the Lower East Side, at 117 Hester Street, in the same building where Sol LeWitt and Adrian Piper had their studios. Miyamoto became LeWitt’s first assistant and, for several years, she was involved in the production of many open-cube sculptures and the execution of some of his early wall drawings, engaging in a continuous dialogue fueled by mutual respect (Sol LeWitt’s collection still owns the largest number of Miyamoto’s works).

Parallel to her activity as LeWitt’s assistant, Miyamoto abandoned the expressionist character of her student days in Tokyo, engaging instead with Minimalist and post-Minimalist vocabularies. Her paintings (1968–72) and modular sculptures (1972–75) use an abstract geometrical language, adopting grids, modules, and patterns as recurring motifs while inserting some significant alterations. If materials such as charcoal and spray paint on canvas introduce a sense of imprecision and an organic element into the minimal grid—while including personal and cultural references to her Japanese background—the modular sculptures are open forms that can be dismantled and presented in different configurations, as if they were toys to play with. Miyamoto’s works of that period can be read as a subtle, at-times ironic attack on the confident and masculine personality of Minimalist art.

In 1973, the year of her first gallery shows in New York and Italy, Miyamoto embarked on a major nail-and-string wall-based installation in MoMA’s private employee eating area—the elegant, path-breaking site-specific work which she had been refining for several years as she moved away from painting, and would become her signature work between 1972 and 1979. (The museum would acquire two works by Miyamoto over those years.) In these sculptures, she distanced herself from the assertive, masculine works of her contemporaries, embracing ephemeral materials and staging apparition-like site-specific and purposefully imperfect installations that shaped and responded to the physical conditions of the given space and seemed also to embody a certain temporality—each work’s evident meticulous assemblage as striking a quality of its work as its handmade, human-scale aspects.

But she was simultaneously returning, and more strictly, to the surface of the wall, with a series of what she called “string construction drawings” that fell somewhere between studies and stand-alone works, some conceived as meticulous conceptual systems through which to assemble realised projects, and others produced as projects themselves. Eventually, she came to extend the wall-based nail-and-string sculptures out into three-dimensional space, exquisitely torqued sculptures-by-filament that almost breathed in the available environment, and which mixed elements of drawing and sculpture, of weaving and of architecture, the handmade and the abstract.

Miyamoto’s work has shown in numerous institutions and galleries, both domestically and internationally, including Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; Daimler Contemporary, Berlin; Lentos Museum, Linz, Austria; Storefront Gallery for Art and Architecture, New York; A.I.R. Gallery, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; P.S.1 Contemporary, New York; among many others, and is represented by Exile Gallery, Berlin.


1964-68 Art Students League, New York City
1962-64 Gendai Bijutsu Kenkyujo (Contemporary Art Research Studio), Tokyo

Selected Exhibitions

Kazuko Miyamoto, Circuit, Lausanne. Curated by Matthieu Poirier
Beatrice Balcou | Kazuko Miyamoto, L’ISELP, Brussels. Curated by Florence Cheval

Eppur si muove. Musée d’Arts Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg. Curated by Christophe Gallois
Bodily Tactics.  Japan Foundation, Delhi (solo). Curated by Luca Cerizza
Migrating Forms and Migrating Gods. Kochi Muziris Biennale and Museum of Goa, India. Curated by Valentina Levy

Post-Op. Perceptual Gone Painterly 1958-2014. Galerie Perrotin, Paris. Curated by Matthieu Poirier
The Pink Gaze (with Atsuko Tanaka, Yoko Ono and Chiharu Shiota), Palazzo Collicola Arti Visive, Spoleto & Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale ‘Giuseppe Tucci’ in Palazzo Brancaccio, Rome. Curated by Valentina Levy
Invisible Exports, New York (solo)

Holiday Pop-up Shop, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
Fukuyama Arts Festival, Japan
Conceptual Tendencies II, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin

Juichigatsu Gallery, Tokyo

Galleria Allesandra Bonomo, Rome

Gallery onetwentyeight, NYC

Kunsthalle Krems, Krems, Austria

Marilena Bonomo Gallery, Bari, Italy
Black & White; Lentos Museum, Linz, Austria (group)

From Haarlem to Harlem; Galerie Nieuw Schoten, Haarlem, The Netherlands (group)
femme brut(e); Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London (group)

Art From Detritus; Gallery MERZ, Sag Harbor, NY (group)

Marilena Bonomo Gallery, Bari, Italy

Behind Paradise Door, gallery onetwentyeight, NYC

Maki-Tamura Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

55 Mercer Gallery, NYC

Kunstverein Firma Paradigma, Linz, Austria

Memories of Lost Materials, Keen Gallery, NYC

Kenkeleba House Gallery, NYC

Open Mind; Sol LeWitt‘s Collection, Wadsworth Antheneum, Hartford (group)

Neue Galerie Linz, Austria

Wheels and Shadow, Storefront Gallery for Art and Architecture

A.I.R. Gallery, NYC

Sculpture Installation, Artist in Residence in Bryant Park (Public Art Fund), NYC

A.I.R. Gallery, NYC

A.I.R. Gallery, NYC

A.I.R. Gallery, NYC
Fiber Workers: North and South Americas and Japan, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan (group)
Ginza Kaigakan (Catalogue by Lawrence Alloway), Tokyo

A.I.R. Gallery, NYC

Wall Works; Rosa Esman Gallery, NYC (group)
Marilena Bonomo Gallery, Bari, Italy
55 Mercer Gallery, NYC

13 Women Artists, Women’s Ad Hoc Committee, 117-119 Prince Street, New York, NY

Performances and Stage Set (selection)

Kazuko dances at Nancy Spero’s; Nancy Spero Studio
Stream and Green Tea, dance and music collaboration with Patricia Parker and Teatro La Tea, NYC

Umbrella Dance; Lodz Biennale, Poland
Life Dance with Gloria Mclean, Andes, NYC

How to be a Perfect woman; (with Vernita and Billy Bang)

Her Father, Collaboration with Gloria McLean Dance Co., Tenri Art Center, NYC
Untitled; collaboration with Gerald Jackson and Toki Osaki, Jack Tilton Gallery, NYC
Shadows & Puppets & ABC, ABC No Rio, NYC

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