Just recently, a great show opened at the MoMA. Titled Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde, it brings together some of the most iconic Japanese artists (like Okamoto Taro, Nakamura Hiroshi, Ay-O, Yoko Ono, Shiomi Mieko, and Tetsumi Kudo) and art collectives (like Experimental Workshop, Hi Red Cente, and Group Ongaku) synonymous with the city's post-War cultural heyday.
The show demonstrates the fantastic vitality of the Japanese through its artists. The country, which was physically and psychologically obliterated after World War II, never gave into depression, and only ten years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tokyo was back on the international creative scene as a center of art, culture, and commerce.
One of the stand-out pieces in the show is Kachi Kachi Yama (1965), the animated film by illustrator Tadanori Yokoo, featuring Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and The Beatles as cartoon characters. The freshness of the tones is striking, as is the element of mystery in each sequence. The work seems to reveal a Japanese fascination with Western culture, but by the artist using his own palette and codes, he achieves a playful sophistication that subtly characterizes the Land of the Rising Sun.
Through February 25, 2013. All images courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.