Tadaaki Kuwayama


Over the past five decades Tadaaki Kuwayama has produced a significant body of work that addresses and makes use of the key principles and manifestations of Minimal art. These significant contributions to the creation and development of Minimalist art have made Tadaaki one of the most revered Minimalist artists of his time. His arrival in New York from his native Japan in the late 1950s put him in the center of the creative, social and political maelstrom that was the character of that decade. He quickly joined the ranks of artists like Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Dan Flavin who were spearheading aesthetic changes and new ideas about art. Together Kuwayama and these artists shifted the direction of painting and sculpture, a shift that was to be a hallmark of American art then and for decades to come.

At the heart of Kuwayama’s work is a passion for color. A painting’s color and its internal structure have been at the core of his principles since the beginning of his career. His first canvases were monochromatic, made from metallic paint that gave the surface of the canvas a kind of gloss and richness as if the color were electrified from within. To control this intensity he added a metal framing device that would separate the canvas into panels. While some painters compose brush in hand, Kuwayama builds his sequential works one unit at a time with the diligence and precision of an architect.

Today, Kuwayama explores color and structure using anodized aluminum and other materials. Steadfastly monochromatic, the formula for these new works remains linked to his earlier works: single geometric elements that are repeated to form a larger whole composition.  With the structure determined, Kuwayama can focus on color, the subtle patina of a green, pink, or silver that emanates across the surface of the aluminum squares or rectangles. Each painting is a presence, a harmonized order of form and color.


Born in 1932 in Nagoya, Japan, Tadaaki Kuwayama grew up knowledgably of classical Japanese art. After graduating from Tokyo National University of Art in 1956, Kuwayama moved to New York to pursue and develop his minimalist style, quite opposite of classical Japanese art. With well over 75 solo exhibitions and 100 group shows both nationally and internationally, Kuwayama’s name has become synonymous with Minimalist art. Tadaaki is prominently featured in countless public collections worldwide including the National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Seattle Art Museum; Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio; Indianapolis Museum of Art. Tadaaki resides in New York City with his wife and fellow artist Rakuko Naito.