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Biography

Keiichi Tanaami (b. 1936, Tokyo, Japan) is recognized as one of the leading figures of Japanese art in the post-war period. Tanaami found success early on, creating images that are now deeply forged in the cultural landscape of both Japan and the United States. Employing a wide variety of media in his practice, Tanaami has been celebrated for his work in painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, printmaking, and animation. His work is characterized by an incorporation of American and Japanese cultural references and imagery, intensity of color, graphic impact, and windowed vignettes that he renders in his densely layered, collage-like compositions.

Rising to prominence in the 1960s, Tanaami’s work registered the influence of manga imagery, the Neo-Dada movement in Japan, and the experience of his childhood during the Second World War. References to the war are a recurring motif in Tanaami’s work, which often features images of air raids, flares, and blasts of white light from the detonation of explosives. His paintings are also deeply influenced by his childhood memories of kamishibai—public theater productions for Japanese children. Tanaami’s work is notable for the manner in which it juxtaposes commercial imagery from Western culture with traditionally Japanese graphic styles, including manga and woodblock printing. Exploring the tension between disparate forces, such as the East and the West, violence and innocence, and commercial imagery and high art, Tanaami has emerged as a form-giver for subsequent generations of working artists.

Tanaami graduated from Musashino Art University in 1960. His work has been the subject of numerous international solo exhibitions at both public institutions and galleries, including recent presentations at Nanzuka Gallery, Tokyo; Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow; Kawasaki City Museum, Kanagawa; Karma International, Zurich; and the Ikeda Museum of 20th Century Art, Shizuoka, among others. Tanaami’s work is frequently included in major group presentations, including exhibitions at Pioneer Works, New York, NY; Jeffrey Deitch, New York; Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angele; the Ludwig Museum, Budapest; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; and the Tate Modern, London, among others. His work is held in the permanent collections of public institutions around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Kawasaki City Museum, Kanagawa; Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama; the Art Institute of Chicago; the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C; National galerie im Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum fur Gegenwart, Berlin; the Tokushima Modern Art Museum, Tokushima; Ikeda Museum of 20th Century Art, Itō; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, among many others. Tanaami lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.

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