English / 中文

Yasuo Sumi

Yasuo Sumi (Japan, 1925)
Yasuo Sumi was born in Osaka in 1925, and worked as a middle-school teacher alongside Gutai Art Collective member Shozo Shimamoto. After a recommendation by Shimamoto to start painting, he self-studied in his free time, and entered an artwork in the 7th Ashiya Art Exhibition.

The work’s reckless spirit caught Jiro Yoshihara’s eye, and in 1955 Sumi became a Gutai group member. The artist famously used the soroban (a Japanese abacus), as well as combs, vibrators and paper umbrellas, and many other unusual tools to create a variety of unique marks. He also created his own philosophy of life, and followed those tenets when making artwork.

In 1956 Jiro Yoshihara published his famous Gutai Art Manifesto, which proposed artwork that was a “handshake between materials and spirit.” In order to put such a philosophy into practice, the artist would need to materially express himself with his entire mind and body. By contrast Yasuo Sumi’s philosophy was founded on “desperation, irresponsibility and carelessness.” These qualities were found in the “original nature of man” and over more than a half-century Sumi lived them out in his painting.

# # #


Born in Osaka, Japan
Encountered with Jiro Yoshihara at the Ashiya City Art Exhibition. Awarded Sakura Prize at the 7th Ashiya City Art Exhibition
Experimental Outdoor Exhibition of Modern Art to Challenge the Mid-Summer Sun exhibition
Joined Gutai Art Collective
1st formal Gutai Exhibition (Tokyo Ohara Hall) (participation in every successive Gutai exhibition)
Art Unidentified / Artist Union (presently known as AU) founding member. Participation in every group exhibition
Group Exhibition "Gutai/AU", Düsseldorf, Germany
Group Exhibition "Japanese" at the American Artist Cultural Center, New York
Solo exhibition at Lustre Hall, Hyogo Prefecture
Gutai I, II, & III exhibitions at the Ashiya City Museum of Art and History
Passage to the Orient exhibition, 45th Venice Biennial
literary work Desperation, Rebellion and Irresponsibility published by Bungeisha Press
Exhibition "Traces:Body and Idea in Contemporary Art" at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Presented works at an exhibition in Modena, Italy
Presented works at an exhibition organized by the Morra Foundation in Naples, Italy Presented a performance work at the residential garden of Morra, a founder of the Morra Foundation
"Yasuo Sumi Exhibition" at Gendaikko Museum, Miyazaki Prefecture Exhibition at MAGI '900 museum, Bologna, Italy with Shozo Shimamoto
Solo Exhibition "SUM" at Spazio Arte dei Mori, Venice, Italy, held a solo exhibition there the following year too

Public Collections

  • National Museum of Art, Osaka
  • Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art
  • Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Art
  • Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art
  • Ashiya City Museum of Art
  • Osaka Museum of Modern Art
  • Tanabe City Museum of Art
  • Itami City Museum of Art
  • Urawa Art Museum
  • Gendaikko Museum
  • Museo De Arte Contemporaneo De Seishi