The Sogetsu Art Center

In 1958, soon after the old Sogetsu Kaikan was completed, the Sogetsu Art Center was founded and Hiroshi became the director. The aim of the center was to offer a place for artists from various genres or fields to gather to create, to show, and to criticize each other without any restrictions. The system in which the artist produces his/her own works was thought to be most innovative, and it was very useful for the artists to protect themselves and their creativity from commercialism. The activities of the center were:

1. Sogetsu Music In : Experimental Jazz concerts in 1960s.
2. Sogetsu Contemporary Series: Recitals of new pieces of contemporary music.
3. Sogetsu Cinematheque: Shows of animation or experimental image films. The activities were especially active in the late 60s.

These were the main activities, but a number of collaborations were realized by the exchange of ideas.
Also, many American forefront arts were introduced at the center. The events by John Cage or David Tudor gave a strong impression; one was called John Cage Shock. The originality of the stage design of the Off-Broadway Musical A coach with 6 people was the talk of the Japanese art world.
Not only for the creations on the stage but for the productions and editing of the posters or the SAC journal, the center promoted many young talented people. Kiyoshi Awazu, Makoto Wada, Kohei Sugiura, and Tadanori Yokoo were the graphic designers and Yoshiaki Tono, Yusuke Nakahara,
Koichi Iijima, and Makoto Ooka were the writers who worked most frequently.

The event by John Cage and D.Tudor.
From the left, John Cage, David Tudor, Yoko Ono, Toshiro Mayuzumi in 1962.
The enquiry session for Raushenberg.
Robert Raushenberg, making his work in concentration on the stage, without answering any question, in 1964.
The poster of the Underground Film Festival, which was one of the projects of Sogetsu Cinematheque, designed by Iwao Hosoya, in 1967
Merce Cunningham Dance Company, November 1964

Major Activities of Sogetsu Art Center and Associated Individuals


“Cinema 58” features Kamei Fumio Documentary Film Special; Abe Kobo produces “Sogetsu-Kyoyo Club” [Sogetsu Culture Club].


Experiments of LSD by Shimazaki Toshiki et al. takes place; Terayama Shuji, Domoto Masaki, et al. perform Monologue Shi-geki [Verse Drama], Tori Group [Bird Group]. Miho Keitaro, Takemitsu Toru, Yagi Masao, Uekusa Jin’ichi come together to initiate “Modern Jazz no Kai (working title)” [Modern Jazz Circle]. Other activities include the Sonoda Takahiro Piano Concert; film preview of José Torres directed by Teshigahara Hiroshi; and Michel Tapié’s lecture and slide event, etc.


Sogetsu Art Center begins publishing SAC[renamed to SAC Journal from No, 14]. The Modern Jazz Circle is renamed “Etcetera to Jazz no Kai” [Etcetera and Jazz Circle] and formalizes its group activities. This includes 6 events by Uekusa Jin’ichi, Yagi Masao, Takemitsu Toru, Tanikawa Shuntaro, Yamaguchi Katsuhiro among others. “Sogetsu Music Inn” conducts 10 events this year, including individual and/or group performances led by Hiraoka Seiji, Mizushima Sanae, Yagi Masao, Miyama Toshikazu, Sugiura Ryozo, Maeda Norio, Tanikawa Shuntaro, Terayama Shuji, Miho Keitaro, Yamaya Kiyoshi, Hara Nobuo, Yagi Kazuo, Shiraki Hideo, Ohashi Kyosen, Watanabe Sadao, Harada Masanaga, and Silas Mosley. As part of “Sogetsu Contemporary Series,” the Sakkyoku-ka Shudan [Composers Group] presents 5 events: Hayashi Hikaru [Solo Exhibition] (Iwaki Hiroyuki, Tomotake Masanori); Takemitsu Toru [Solo Exhibition] (Kanze Hisao, Hayashi Ririko); Matsudaira Yoriaki [Solo Exhibition] (Iwaki Hiroyuki, Minegishi Soichi, etc.); Iwaki Hiroyuki [Solo Exhibition] (Kanze Hisao, Hideo, Shizuo); and Moroi Makoto [Solo Exhibition] (Yoneyama Mamako, Akiyama Kuniharu, etc.). “Animation 3-nin no Kai” [Three-Person Animation Circle], consisting of Kuri Yoji, Yanagihara Ryohei and Manabe Hiroshi, also begin exhibiting this year as part of the series.


“Sogetsu Music Inn” conducts 6 events: Kubota Jiro, Takemitsu Toru, Saito Takashi, Mizushima Sanae, Miho Keitaro, Miyazawa Akira, Yagi Kazuo, Goto Yoshiko, Owari Masae, Furuya Takashi, Yagi Masao, Yukimura Izumi and Watanabe Sadao et al. perform individually and/or as a group. “Sogetsu Contemporary Series” presents Takahashi Yuji Piano Recital 1and The Works of Ichiyanagi Toshi, Group Exhibition 1 (Mayuzumi Toshiro, Akutagawa Yasushi and all members) organized by all members of the Composers Group and Mamiya Yoshio [Solo Exhibition](conducted by Mori Tadashi, Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus, etc.). “Sogetsu Cinematheque” also initiate its activities and present screenings of José Torres by Teshigahara Hiroshi; Nishijin [The Weavers of Nishijin] directed by Matsumoto Toshio; Broadway by Light directed by William Klein; and works by Wada Ben. Other activities include Experimental Music Concert by Iannis Xenakis; Motofuji Hanako Dance Recital 1 directed by Hijikata Tatsumi, Works of Takechi Tetsuji 5; and the first concert by Group Ongaku [Group Music] (Kosugi Takehisa, Mizuno Shuko, Shiomi Mieko).


Otoshi Ana [The Pitfall] preview screening takes place at SAC meeting; Ningyou-gekidanHitomi-za” [Puppet Theater Company “Group Eyes”] performance directed by Iwata Hiroshi, Tanikawa Shuntaro, and Shimizu Koji; Preview of The Works of Peter Kubelka preview screening; and Wakamatsu Miki, Kimura Yuriko and Takahashi Yuji perform Dance Activity 1. “Sogetsu Cinematheque” presents 2 events that include the early comedy films by Charlie Chaplin; “Sogetsu Music Inn” conducts 2 events performed by Inomata Takeshi, Maeda Norio, Yagi Masao and Miyazawa Akira. “Sogetsu Contemporary Series” presents Miyoshi Akira [Solo Exhibition] (Matsumura Teizo), a member of the “Composers Group,” and 8 performances that include Théo Lesoual’ch (Experimental Mime), Takahashi Yuji, Ichiyanagi Toshi, Ono Yoko, Awazu Kiyoshi, Mayuzumi Toshiro, Kobayashi Kenji. The most sensational event of the year is John Cage and David Tudor’s performance for the “Sogetsu Contemporary Series.” The event tours through Tokyo Bunka Kaikan [Tokyo Cultural Hall], Kyoto Kaikan [Kyoto Concert Hall], Osaka Mido Kaikan [Osaka Mido Hall]. The Sogetsu Hall event includes collaborations with Yoko Ono, Ichiyanagi Toshi, Takahashi Yuji among others. The events cause a great stir and would come to be referred to as the “John Cage Shock.”


Bauhaus and the Art of Today, a lecture and performance by Kawazoe Noboru, Akiyama Kuniharu, Takahashi Yuji among others takes place. The Three-Person Animation Circle presents Sannin no Animation 3 [Three-Person Animation 3] as part of Sogetsu Cinematheque. Ensou-ka Shudan-New Direction [Musicians Group: New Direction] begins its activities; and Akutagawa Yasushi, Takahashi Yuji, Ichiyanagi Toshi and Noguchi Ryu participate as conductors and/or players. “Sogetsu Music Inn” presents Yagi Masao Trio. Hijikata Tatsumi and others perform “Ankoku-Butoh ha” [Dance of Darkness] as part of Dance Experience Circle. In addition, the Uchiyama Ayako Modern Dance Recital and Kosugi Takehisa and Tone Yasunao’s Sweet 16 take place.


“Sogetsu Cinematheque” presents 5 events, which include Animation Festival and New [Moving] Image 1: The Works of Oshima Nagisa. Other activities include The Works of Nam Jun Paik; Musicians Group­-New Direction: Periodic Concerts conducted by Wakasugi Hiroshi; Gutai shi-ten [Concrete Poetry Exhibition]; Sogetsu Experimental Theater 1 directed by Mizuta Haruyasu and performed by [Niyaya Yatsuko]; and Ono Yoko Farewell Concert. In addition, other activities include Research on Dracula written by Terayama Shuji and performed by Ningen-za [The Human Company] and Collective Music (Ichiyanagi Toshi, Takemitsu Toru, Kosugi Takehisa, Akasegawa Genpei) etc. The most popular event of the year is the musical play, The Coach With The Six Inside written and directed by Jean Erdman. In November, Art of Today: Merce Cunningham Dance Company tours through Tokyo Sankei Hall, Kobe International House, and Osaka Festival Hall. John Cage, David Tudor Concert and Twenty Questions to Bob Rauschenberg also take place. SAC Journal is discontinued.


“Sogetsu Cinematheque” presents two events under the title, Nihon Eiga no Sokuseki [Traces of Japanese Films] and realizes Animation Festival 65. In addition, Théo Lesoual’ch et al. perform Mime Festival.


“Sogetsu Cinematheque” presents A Retrospective of World Avant-garde Cinema and German Expressionist Cinema: Fritz Lang, etc. [Kawano Norimasa], Yoshida Kenkichi, and Oikawa Hironobu present Artaud-kan Dai 1-kai Kouen [The 1st Maison d’Artaud Performance]; and The Human Company: Research on Dracula takes place. In addition, Underground Cinema; Animation Festival 66; From Space to Environment (Happening by Ay-o, Yamaguchi Katsuhiro, Awazu Kiyoshi and Shiomi Mieko); and Biocode Process:The Expression of a Many-Body System by Electronic Computer Construction performed by Otsuji Kiyoji, Kanda Akio and Yamaguchi Katsuhiro take place.


“Sogetsu Cinematheque” presents Underground Film Festival and The Invitation to Animation. Terayama Shuji’s Tenjo Sajiki performs 2 times, and the first Sogetsu Experimental Film Festival is held this year.


“Sogetsu Cinematheque” features Yakuza Eiga [Yakuza Cinema] and Kaiki to Genso[Grotesque and Phantasm]. Expose 1968|/Symposium: Nanika itte kure, Ima sagasu [Expose 1968|/Symposium: Say Something, I’m Trying] performed by Kurokawa Kisho, Yokoo Tadanori, Awazu kiyoshi take place. Other activities include Jazz Rock Relax by Ishikawa Akira, Maeda Norio et al.; Eizo Design Kenkyu: Jyouzetsu no Eizo [Image Design Research: The Garrulous Image]; and Film Art Festival [Tokyo] 1968.


Stan Vanderbeek Visit Performance takes place; “Sogetsu Cinematheque” features films by Mizoguchi Kenji, Luis Buñuel, and Das Andere Kino [The Other Cinema] featuring German films. Film Art Festival [Tokyo] 1969 is canceled due to political uprising.


“Sogetsu Cinematheque” features films by Iimura Takahiko, Arakawa Shusaku, Terayama Shuji, Jean-Luc Godard and films from Czechoslovakia and Cuba.


Sogetsu Art Center ceases activities.

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