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[[article clipping from Time, January 1, 1973, p. 37]]

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^[[J.M. Tannenbaum Toronto add.]] 

[[section heading]]
ART [[/section heading]]

[[article title]]Japan's Picture Boom[[/article title]]

"We couldn't have gotten a better price," said Director Thomas P. Hoving, struggling to defend the clandestine sale of the Metropolitan Museum's major Rousseau, The Tropics, which - together with a Van Gogh - went out the back door to a dealer for a rumored total of $1.5 million. He might have tried Japan first. Last week Tokyo Art Dealer ^[[underline]]Tokushichi Hasegawa[[/underline]] took delivery of the Rousseau, which he had bought from Marlborough Fine Art in London and resold to an Osaka businessman (anonymous, for "tax reasons") for $2,000,000. Said Hasegawa who, at 33, is vice president of ^[[underline]]Nichido Gallery[[/underline]], Japan's largest art shop: "I only felt sorry that I couldn't pick up the Van Gogh as well." 

Names. High as the Rousseau's price was, it made no stir in Japan's suddenly febrile art market, which is a reflection of the country's prosperity. One of Hasegawa's neighbors in the Ginza, the ^[[underline]]Yoshii Gallery[[/underline]], sold a Rouault oil to a collector for $2.6 million last year, and Japan's new passion for Western painting has been reflected in similarly inflated prices all the way down the line. Works by the old reliables of the Paris School - Chagall, Modigliani, Renoir, Picasso - many of inferior quality and some of them outright fakes, routinely go for 20% to 2,000% above their New York or London prices. About 500 galleries have mushroomed in Japan, and especially along the Ginza in the past few years. Says Dealer ^[[underline]]Yoko Fukushima[[/underline]]:  "The mad Japanese buying abroad has long turned Tokyo into the world's best market for second-rate works by first-rate artists. Japanese buy names, not quality." Even the patriarchal trading houses of Japan are in on the act - sometimes with depressing results, as when the huge ^[[underline]]Marubeni Corp.[[/underline]] added art to its "general trading" department. (along with cement, cameras and sundry goods) and got stuck with a dubious Botticelli at $500,000. "I still don't know anything about this business," admits the Marubeni staffer who was shifted from exporting Japanese toys to importing European art. 

Many Japanese corporations consider it a necessary status symbol to hang a Matisse or a Renoir in their VIP reception rooms. Japan's newly rich are also well aware that such art is now a good investment. One Osaka real estate baron recently won fame in the trade by phoning an art dealer these directions: "Get me 100 million yen [$330,000] worth of art - get me whatever you think would prove moneymaking." Japanese art buyers are operating like Sony executives all over Europe and the U.S. "No hammers go down nowadays either at Christie's or Sotheby's," one of them placidly observed last week, "without at least one of us raising his pudgy hand." 

[[article title]]Vulnerable Ugliness[[/article title]]

"I have learned anything is possible...that vision or concept will come through total risk, freedom, discipline. I will do it." When Sculptor Eva Hesse wrote this exalted sentiment three years ago, she was already dying; her larger works had to be executed by student friends at her direction; she did not live to see her reputation expand beyond a small coterie of New York City artists and critics. 

Born a Jew in Germany in 1936, wounded by the separation of her parents in America and the later suicide of her mother, Hesse may be said to have been shaped by crisis. Her diaries are of a lacerating candor. Her history is reflected in the tough-mindedness of her sculpture. Eva Hesse's work exerted a steady, underground pressure on the look of New York art. The galleries are stuffed with artists whose products are unacknowledged variants on hers. Last week, a posthumous retrospective of her work opened at Manhattan's Guggenheim - if "retrospective" is not a pompous term for a view of five years' work. We will never know what Hesse might have done if the tumor had not rioted in her brain, killing her in 1970 at the age of 34. 

[[image: photograph of Hess]]
SCULPTOR EVA HESSE 
Out of lacerating candor. 
[[photo by]]H. LANDSHOFF

Because she died at an age when most artists are only getting into their stride, it is not surprising to find that Hesse's main dialogue was with her contemporaries in New York: the spiky or woolly boxes of Lucas Samaras, Claes Oldenburg's soft sculptures, Jasper Johns' borderline works between sculpture and painting. The remarkably intense exchange recalls, like a lost epoch, the temper of New York in the '60s. 

Hesse's work oscillated between fundamentalism and funk: on one hand, a reductive, seemingly casual approach to sculpture, which also lay behind the scatterings and floor pieces of artists like Richard Serra and Carl Andre (shavings, or planks, or tiles, or indeed anything except a figure on a base); on the other, the use of droopy, cracked, hanging, bandaged, sprawled, repetitive and otherwise un-ideal forms as references to the human body, its vulnerability to age and gravity, its indelicate openness. Hesse's role in providing American art with an exit from the minimalist impasse was crucial. Her ambition was to go in below the level of style, making art whose sensuous appeal was obliterated by its coarse, laconic materials: latex, cheesecloth, scrap metal. 

Indeed, some of her best pieces hardly become "art" at all. Hangup, 1965-66, is a rectangular frame, "tied up," as Hesse put it, "like a hospital bandage." A long loop of metal emerges from one corner, traces a wambling arc in the air, flops on the floor and creeps back into the opposite corner. It is articulately made but it looks stumbling and impoverished, like a Beckett tramp. It still seems daring, but was vastly more so six years ago, when Minimalism still imposed its demands of geometry, scalelessness and high industrial polish on most new American sculpture. 

[[image: photograph of artwork Hangup]]
HANGUP (1965-66) 
COLLECTION OF MR. & MRS. VICTOR W. GANZ

Hesse called Hangup "the most ridiculous structure I ever made, and that is why it is really good. It has a kind of depth of soul of absurdity." The form of her later pieces - ragged sheets of latex, irregular fiber-glass cylinders strewn at random on the floor, tangled webs of rubbery cord hanging from the ceiling like a three-dimensional version of Pollock drips - is partly an effort to give sculpture the fluidity of abstract-expressionist painting and partly a direct celebration of incongruity. Decoration, she believed, was "the only art sin." It was not a peccadillo she ever committed: ugly, difficult and raw though Eva Hesse's work is, it constitutes one of the most forthright statements in 1960s art. 

-Robert Huges

TIME, JANUARY 1, 1973           37
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