NEW YORK, NY.- Fergus McCaffrey
announced the death of Noriyuki Haraguchi (19462020). The extraordinary Japanese artist of global importance rose to prominence in the late 1960s through the development of painting and sculpture that engaged with cultural and environmental issues through a post-minimalist vocabulary.
A statement from Frances Morris and Sook-Kyung Lee of Tate Modern, London:
"Noriyuki Haraguchi made history as the first Japenese artist to show in Documenta 6 in 1977. His memorable large scale oil pool work, with its fluid reflective surface, was indicative of the complex conversation his work facilitated between raw and manufactured materials exploring notions of modernity, industrialisation and nature in works with a beguiling formal beauty. Shaped by early memories of fighter jets encountered as a child on the US naval base in Yokosuka where he grew up, Haraguchis interest in materials and questions of objectivity and perception made him an important voice within the Mona Ha movement. Haraguchis Airpipe C from 1969 is on long term display at Tate Modern alongside Japanese, European and American contemporaries who showed together in the 1970 Tokyo Biennial.
Haraguchi was notably generous to Tate and will be remembered at Tate Modern as a quiet and reserved yet warm and thoughtful artist.
Born in 1946, the artist spent most of his life in the town of Yokosuka, Japan, the home port of the US Navys 7th Fleet. The environment of Yokosuka, located south of the massively industrialized city of Kawasaki, indelibly shaped Haraguchis aesthetic and instinct for pure construction.
Haraguchi attended Nihon University, Tokyo, in the late 1960s, amidst the protests and campus riots against the war in Vietnam and the presence of US military on Japanese soil. A 1968 encounter with the tail of a US Navy jet fighter aircraft proved decisive in cementing Haraguchis politically-infused minimalist aesthetic, inspiring his iconic 1969 work, A-4E Skyhawkthe first in a series of full-scale replicas of jet tails of Vietnam-era American warplanes. This work, along with the artists early paintings and sculptures, such as the Ships series (196365), Tsumu 147 (Freight Car) (1966), and Air Pipes series (196869), evinced an early and acute awareness of the aesthetics of militarism and heavy industry that Haraguchi would continue to explore throughout his decades-long career.
Shortly after graduating in 1970, the artist executed his first Oil Pool sculpture in 1971, made from welded steel and containing dark, acrid-smelling, spent machine oil. Underscoring the friction between the contemplative splendor of its reflection and the polluting nature of the materials, a later version of the sculpture was exhibited to great acclaim at Documenta 6 in 1977 and soon after acquired by the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran, where it remains installed today. Marking his rise to prominence in the West, Haraguchi emerged on the global stage alongside Richard Serra, Luciano Fabro, Pino Pascali, Brice Marden, Gilberto Zorio, Robert Smithson, and Richard Nonas; sharing a post-minimalist appreciation for the essence of a material and an intuition for how to transform it into art.
Fergus McCaffrey shares: Writing this, my memory falls back to being in the old apartment in Zushi with domestic comfort abandoned entirely in the mad pursuit of ambitious art. Of cramped space, choking cigarette smoke, crazed neighbors, and toxic polyurethane fumes; all the while Haraguchi-san mused about Hasegawa Tōhaku and Mt. Fuji... Well both are united now in the milky white light and clouds around Mt. Fuji; and I am confident that he too will inspire future generations of creative souls to commit themselves to important art.
Haraguchis work has been exhibited extensively, in Japan and abroad. Recent solo and group exhibitions include Fergus McCaffrey, New York (2015, 2014, 2012); Miyake Fine Arts, Tokyo (2014, 2012, 2010); Kanazawa Art University Gallery, Kanazawa (2013); Art Unlimited 2014, Fergus McCaffrey, New York (2013); MoA, Seoul (2013); Espace Louis Vuitton, Tokyo (2012); Kamakura Gallery, Kanagawa (2012); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); Yokosuka Museum of Art (2011); BankART, Yokohama, Japan (2009); Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (2007); and the Lenbachhaus, Munich (2001). Haraguchi received the Award of Excellence from the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and Tokyo Central Museum in 1969 and 1973, respectively.