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Tamiko Kawata Art

Japanese, b. 1936

At first glance, Tamiko Kawata’s work is elegant and engaging. On closer inspection, viewers grow more intrigued as they recognize the materials are unexpected — safety pins, rubber bands, used pantyhose and newspaper. She has created arresting jewelry, sculpture, “painting” on canvas and installations. “I like to use overlooked, indigenous objects from our daily life for my medium,” she explains. “Discarded materials are important to me not only for environmental issues but also to reflect my current life.” Kawata studied art in Japan, receiving her BFA in Sculpture at Tsukuba University. She explains that she was influenced by Bauhaus and Dada, and then the emergence of the Gutai Group, a Japanese avant-garde movement that began in 1954. All three art philosophies were particularly interested in unconventional materials. “These philosophies became a foundation for my way of thinking and for my art-making direction,” she says. In 1962, when she was 26, she came to New York, where she continues to live.

While Kawata has made large works of newspapers and pantyhose, she is perhaps best known for her works made of safety pins. On arriving in the US, Kawata needed them to make her American-sized clothes fit. She found the pins in abundance in a dime store and has explored their potential as an art material ever since. The extent of that potential is surprising. Kawata has used pins of different size and colors to create dramatic installation works, like Rain Forest in which chains of pins that end in circles on the floor recall a rippling pond in Kyoto and the victims of the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. “I wanted to connect this beauty of nature and the atomic bomb victims,”
 she has explained. She uses the pins to create standalone sculptures of all shapes that can be displayed indoors or out. She uses them to “draw” on canvas, too.

Kawata’s work is in numerous collections, including: Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York; Honolulu Contemporary Art Museum, Hawaii; Ishiguro Art Collection, Tokyo, Japan; Lafcadio Hearn/Yakumo Koizumi Art Museum, Matsue, Japan; Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada; Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, Brooklyn, New York; Yusuke Aida Collection, Tokyo, Japan; Davis Brody & Bond Architects, New York, New York; Ishiguro Art Collection, Tokyo, Japan; LongHouse Reserve, East Hampton, New York; PREC Institute, Tokyo, Japan; Buenno Premesela Art Collection, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships including the Ucross Art Residency; American Academy for Arts and Letters, 2015 Purchase Award; Meet Factory Art Foundation Award,Solo Show and Residency, Prague, Czechoslovokia; Pollock/Krasner Foundation Grant; McDowell Art Colony Residency and the Yaddo Art Colony, Louise Bourgeois Residency Award for Sculpture.

(Biography provided by Browngrotta Arts)
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Artist: Tamiko Kawata
Cleopatra Necklace, brass plated safety pin wearable art, statement jewelry
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
Tamiko repurposes quotidian objects to create exquisite fine art jewelry. She was trained in sculpture at Tokyo University. Kawata grew up in Japan, in the wake of World War II, and ...
Category

1990s Contemporary Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Silver

Morning Dew Necklace, Hematite beads and safety pin wearable art
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
Tamiko Kawata repurposes quotidian objects and transforms them into wearable art necklaces. She likes to use overlooked indigenous objects from daily life for her medium. Discarded m...
Category

1990s Contemporary Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Silver

Waterfall, Black and brass safety pin and gold wearable art necklace
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
Tamiko Kawata repurposes quotidian objects and transforms them into wearable art necklaces. She likes to use overlooked indigenous objects from daily life for her medium. Discarded m...
Category

2010s Assemblage Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Gold, Brass

Sunflower, Stainless steel safety pin wearable art necklace, 1999
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
Tamiko Kawata repurposes quotidian objects and transforms them into wearable art necklaces. She likes to use overlooked indigenous objects from daily life for her medium. Discarded m...
Category

1990s Contemporary Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Stainless Steel

Permutation 7
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in Wilton, CT
Discarded materials are important to Tamiko Kawata, not only for environmental issues but also to reflect her current life. Her choice of materials and interpretation are influenced ...
Category

2010s Abstract Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Wood Panel, Pins, Textile, Canvas

The Pod, abstract minimalist brass safety pin sculpture, 2019
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
Kawata has an intimate relationship with her seemingly mundane materials. As she fastens each pin, forms grow beneath her fingers. The metallic, serpentine sculptures toe the line be...
Category

2010s Minimalist Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Found Objects

Permutation 10, minimalist safety pins abstract sculpture, 2018
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
In this most recent body of work, Kawata shreds and fastens and reconfigures safety pins to create objects of fantasy and minimalism. Her "Permutations" wall-sculptures are methodica...
Category

2010s Abstract Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Wood, Pins

Morning Dew Necklace 1, Swarovski Peacock beads and safety pins
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
Tamiko Kawata repurposes quotidian objects and transforms them into wearable art necklaces. She likes to use overlooked indigenous objects from daily life for her medium. Discarded m...
Category

1990s Assemblage Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Silver

CBM-3, minimalist cardboard, acrylic sculpture, 2018
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
In this most recent body of work, Kawata shreds and reconfigures corrugated cardboard to create objects of fantasy and minimalism.  Transformed by volume and manipulation, the artist...
Category

2010s Abstract Tamiko Kawata Art

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Acrylic, Cardboard

Clips - 4 Black, realist black and white conte crayon rubbing, patterned design
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
Tamiko Kawata selects everyday objects as inspiration for her work, making magic out of the mundane. In this conte crayon rubbing, paperclips cascade across the lightly-toned ground....
Category

2010s Contemporary Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Conté, Crayon, Tissue Paper

Paper Clip Rubbing, abstracted turquoise pastel rubbing on vellum, 2011
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
In this most recent body of work, Kawata takes the mundane and makes it magical.  Transformed by volume and manipulation, the artist elevates humble paperclips from their prosaic, ut...
Category

2010s Abstract Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Pins

Clips C-2 Purple Blue, realist conte crayon rubbing, pattern design
By Tamiko Kawata
Located in New York, NY
Tamiko Kawata selects everyday objects as inspiration for her work, making magic out of the mundane. In this conte crayon rubbing, paperclips cascade through a rich midnight ombre. T...
Category

2010s Contemporary Tamiko Kawata Art

Materials

Conté, Tissue Paper

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Category

2010s Contemporary Tamiko Kawata Art

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Clips C-2 Purple Blue, realist conte crayon rubbing, pattern design
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Tamiko Kawata selects everyday objects as inspiration for her work, making magic out of the mundane. In this conte crayon rubbing, paperclips cascade through a rich midnight ombre. T...
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2010s Abstract Tamiko Kawata Art

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Detritus #4, multicolored acrylic on pressed wood abstract wall sculpture, 2015
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Sunflower, Gold and nickel safety pin wearable art necklace, 2015
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Tamiko Kawata, Twelve Arms, Safety pins sculpture, 2015
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Sunflower #2, safety pin necklace, wearable art, statement jewelry, 2015
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Tamiko Kawata art for sale on 1stDibs

1stDibs offers a wide variety of authentic Tamiko Kawata art for sale. You can also browse by medium to find art by Tamiko Kawata in found objects, metal, pins and more. Much of this artist's original work was created during the 21st Century and Contemporary, and is mostly associated with the Contemporary style. Not every interior allows for large Tamiko Kawata art, so small editions measuring 9 inches across are available. Customers interested in this artist might also find the work of Joe Wheaton, Koji Takei and Niho Kozuru. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at US$500 and tops out at US$20,000, while the average work can sell for US$1,225.

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