Homage to Shuzo Takiguchi

Kazuhiko Satani’s Homage to Shuzo Takiguchi

In 1973, at the age of 45, Kazuhiko Satani quit his job at a bank and began working at Minami Gallery, a pioneering force in contemporary art at the time. It was at this time that he began keeping a diary, and he continued almost without missing a day until he fell ill in 2008. His diary entries noted the day’s weather, people he had met and spoken with, and his thoughts, covering both public and private matters.

As an employee of Minami Gallery, Kazuhiko Satani became friendly with Shuzo Takiguchi, a man he had admired for many years. In his diary Kazuhiko unhesitatingly referred to Shuzo Takiguchi with the honorific sensei, putting him in a small group of Kazuhiko’s respected elders along with Hisashi Nakayama (art enthusiast and valued advisor whom he got to know during his days at Minami Gallery) and Ekizo Fujibayashi (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Japan). In July 1981, two years after Takiguchi’s death, Kazuhiko launched a series of exhibitions in homage to Shuzo Takiguchi, which became a lifelong project. The Exhibition in Homage to Shuzo Takiguchi was held 28 times, up until 2006.

Description of Shuzo Takiguchi, and the Exhibition in Homage to Shuzo Takiguchi, from a Book by Kazuhiko Satani

(...) I believe that at the time, I did not think so deeply about these exhibitions potentially becoming my life’s work. The idea was to present a series of solo exhibitions featuring artists who were close friends of Mr. Takiguchi’s, including a show of works by the great man himself.

This seemed to go more or less according to plan, but there ended up being quite a bit more to it. As the exhibition series continued, I was able to hear more stories than I could possibly have imagined from artists and others, and what I heard aligned with my original vision and convinced me that I was on the right track. A vivid, well-rounded picture of Takiguchi-sensei emerged, far exceeding my expectations. I wrote down ideas that came to me in a notebook on the spot, and the framework of my lifelong project was complete. This makes me feel blessed to be an art dealer. (...)

Kazuhiko Satani, excerpt from “Afterword,” Thirty Years of Satani Gallery, Misuzu Shobo, p. 229.

(...) It was at Sam Francis’s solo exhibition, at Minami Gallery in 1968, that I saw a rather small, gray-haired elderly gentleman talking with Sam Francis. (...) At the time I simply looked at him with a fan’s mentality, thinking “Wow, that’s Takiguchi-sensei.” I couldn’t imagine approaching and talking to him, and just gazed at him in silence.

(...) In 1973 I took the plunge, quit my job at a bank where I had worked for 20 years, and went to work for Minami Gallery. After that, I had an increasing number of interactions with Takiguchi-sensei. Once I began seeing him frequently, we would make the rounds of bookstores in Ginza and then drink beer at small restaurants, or I visited him at his home in Nishi-Ochiai. Takiguchi-sensei spoke in a low voice, but he would continue speaking for long periods of time. His study was full of books, magazines, catalogues, and other remarkable things, and before I knew it, I would lose track of the books and magazines I had brought with me. Breton, Dalí, Miró, Duchamp, Sam Francis... and, of course many Japanese artists, and on and on. We discussed topic after topic, and it seemed like we could have gone on speaking until daybreak if left to our own devices. I always drew the conversation to a close because I was worried about his physical condition. Each time I received what amounted to an extraordinarily valuable lesson, and I could not have spent my time more happily (...)

(...) Among Takiguchi-sensei’s accomplishments are collaborating once with Antoni Tàpies and twice with Miró on books of poetry and art. He also uniquely collaborated with Duchamp on a book titled To and From Rrose Selavy, which had a special edition including prints by five artists. (...) Takiguchi-sensei's work should be more highly appreciated for its importance in contemporary art, both prewar and postwar. (...) Takiguchi-sensei is truly a central figure in the Japanese art world, and I wanted my own work in the art world to relate to his work. That is how the Exhibition in Homage to Shuzo Takiguchi came about. (...)

Kazuhiko Satani, Thirty Years of Satani Gallery, Misuzu Shobo, pp. 187-226.
Excerpt from Thirty Years with Takiguchi-sensei: Looking Back on the “Exhibition in Homage to Shuzo Takiguchi” (first printed in Gendaishi Techo, November 2003).