Noriyuki Haraguchi, one of the most notable artists to come out of the postwar era in Japan, has died at 74. His death was reported on Thursday by his gallery Fergus McCaffrey, which has spaces in New York and Tokyo.
Haraguchi has been regarded as a key figure in his home country of Japan, where he is most often associated with a 1960s movement known as Mono-ha. With a name meaning “School of Things,” the movement harnessed industrial materials in the service of minimalist paintings, sculptures, and installations that shifted viewers’ perspectives on themselves and their surroundings.
Haraguchi’s best-known works utilized machine oil. His masterpiece, Oil Pool (1971), comprises oil in a low pool that serenely reflects its surroundings back at its viewer. A version of that work was shown at the 1977 edition of Documenta in Kassel, Germany, where Haraguchi became one of the first Asian artists ever to present work at the famed quinquennial, and it was later acquired by the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran. In 2017, the museum restored the work, which ranks among its most notable holdings.
In a joint statement, Tate Modern director Frances Morris and curator Sook-Kyung Lee said of Haraguchi, “His memorable large scale oil pool work, with its fluid reflective surface, was indicative of the complex conversation his work facilitated between raw and manufactured materials exploring notions of modernity, industrialization, and nature in works with a beguiling formal beauty.”