Special Exhibition“The Principles of Art” by Akasegawa Genpei: From the 1960s to the Present

Akasegawa Genpei (1937-2014) was a multifaceted figure who was active as an avant-garde artist, manga creator, illustrator, writer (of both novels and essays), and a photographer.

Akasegawa got his start as an avant-garde artist when he helped form the Neo-Dadaism Organizers with Shinohara Ushio, Yoshimura Masunobu, and Arakawa Shusaku in 1960. Then after becoming active in the Hi-Red Center with Nakanishi Natsuyuki and Takamatsu Jiro in 1963, he came to be one of the most prominent representatives of Anti-art.

Akasegawa’s Model 1,000-Yen Note series, produced around the same time, was deemed to be a violation of the Act on the Control of Imitation of Currency and Securities, and led to a court battle in 1965. This made Akasegawa’s name became much more widely known outside of the art world. In 1968, after his appeal in the case had ended, Akasegawa moved into manga and illustration, and following the success of Sakura gaho (Sakura Illustrated), he quickly became a standard-bearer of parody manga.

In the late 1970s, Akasegawa made his debut in the world of letters, and in 1981 he was awarded the prestigious Akutagawa Prize. In the 1980s, through projects such as Hyper-Art: Thomasson, the Street Observation Society, and the Leica Alliance, he documented and displayed photographs of strange things he discovered on the street. And in 1999, his book Rojin ryoku (The Power of the Old) caused a lasting sensation.

As these examples suggest, it is difficult to sum up Akasegawa’s myriad activities in a few words. At the same time, though he boldly branched out into many different fields, there is a consistent attitude underlying Akasegawa’s work from the 1960s to the end of his career. More than setting out to express something or create something from scratch, he was fond of using his extremely observant eye and discerning mind to put a subtle slant on or overturn commonplace things and ideas. By doing this, Akasegawa was able to transform familiar aspects of everyday life into refreshing, humorous works. Whether it be a piece from the 1960s such as Model 1,000-Yen Note or Canned Universe, or a later book like Rojin ryoku, all of his works were a product of his unique method of slanting and overturning things.

Akasagawa created a secure place for himself in Japanese art history with these unique works, and he continues to exert an influence on young artists today. In this exhibition, we take a sweeping view of the artist’s 50-year career through a diverse collection of over 500 works and related documents.


Date March 21-May 31, 2015
Hours 10:00-17:00 (Last admission 16:30)
Closed Mondays (except May 4), May 7

Adults 1,030 (820) yen, university students 720 (620) yen, high school students and seniors[65 and over] 510 (410) yen
*Figures in parentheses: Advance purchase and groups of 30 or more
*Junior high school students and younger: Free admission
*May 5(Children’s Day):Free admission to children through high-school age

Organized by Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Japan Association of Art Museums
Supported by Hiroshima Prefecture, Hiroshima Municipal Board of Education, Hiroshima FM Broad Casting Co., Ltd., Onomichi FM Broad Casting Co., Ltd.
Cooperated with SCAI THE BATHHOUSE
With assistance from  Lion Corporation, Shimizu Corporation, Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., Sompo Japan and Nipponkoa Insurance Inc.


Sheets of Vagina (Second Present), 1961/1994

Room in Alibi, 1963/1995

Impounded Objects:Model 1,000-Yen Notes ll,Panel Work3, 1963

Sakura Gaho No23: Flower Storm 1-1, 1971

Camera Illustration:Leica lllg, 2000