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Tadanori Yokoo

Yokoo's poster for an early show by Tenjo Sajiki.(Tadanori Yokoo)
Hailed by art critics as ‘the standard bearer of anti-modernism’, Tadanori Tokoo’s extraordinary and insightful poster art of the 1960s and 1970s offers the Westerner a doorway into the Japanese postwar refusenik mindset. Nowadays chronicled by museums and art houses the world over, Tokoo’s multi-level symbolism often crowded cliché against cliché, here juxtaposing the eternal Mount Fuji of ancient Japan Within with the Shinkansen (bullet train) of postwar Japan Without, there offering up Marylin Monroe alongside religious icons thus befitting her role as that generation’s Sex Goddess). My personal favourite will always remain Yokoo’s superb monster movie poster-style take on JFK’s successor President Linden B. Johnson clutching a McDonnell Phantom jet fighter in one hand and the Mother Earth in the other. Unlike the flat barely two-dimensional pop art of Warhol, Yokoo’s posters were often dense and buried in meaning, not grabbing the eye at all, appearing especially dense to those were used to enjoying the type of modern art that demanded a hugely intense first reaction. In 1969, experimental composer Toshi Ichiyanagi dedicated an opera to Yokoo, calling it OPERA FROM THE WORKS OF TADANORI YOKOO. Clothed in some of Yokoo’s most famous and delicate artwork, the opera was released on The End Records as a beautiful double-LP, and came in the form of twin picture discs. Comprised mainly of electronic music, multiple chatter and spoken words, the whole of Side Three was a 20-minute freakout by Yuya Utchida’s pre-Flower Travellin’ Band Group Sounds act The Flowers. The track, entitled I’m Dead’, is a spooky drawn out thing like nothing recorded before nor after.It obviously generated a cult of its own, for the track was featured on the bootleg FROM PUSSIES TO DEAD IN 10,000 YEARS OF FREAKOUT. ‘I’m Dead’ took its name from one of Yokoo’s most famous works – a poster depicting a young man hanging himself, with the caption below reading: ‘Having reached a climax at the age of 29, I was dead’. Yokoo published several fine art books throughout the years, and those that I have been able to locate are published below. At his funeral, friends carried pumpkins and fruit instead of flowers and did not accept his death as an end.

Recommended:

YEARNING FOR MILLENNIUM (No Publisher/Ltd Ed. 1974)
UROTSUKI YATA (Shueisha Publishing 1975)
100 POSTERS BY TADANORI TOKOO (Images Graphiques 1978)
TADANORI YOKOO & HIS WORKS (Heibonsha Publishing 1996)

Julian Cope
Images
  • Yokoo's poster for an early show by Tenjo Sajiki.
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Posted by choan, Sep 04, 2007
Comments
I'm [not] Dead
I hadn't read the bio here, but I want to make it clear that Mr. Yokoo is not dead.

Also, if you order anything from his official site/store, (including the fantastic Bridge Records "Opera" reissue) he will kindly autograph and personalize it, from beyond the grave, no less!
Posted by judan-maiku, Dec 01, 2010
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