“My Own Death”, 1970 at Tokyo

Photo © Mitsutoshi Hanaga


Yutaka Matsuzawa was born February 2, 1922 and grew up in Shimosuwa, Nagano in mountainous central Japan. He studied architecture from 1943–1946 at Waseda University in Tokyo, but gave it up to return home and focus on poetry and art. From 1955 to 1957, he stayed in the United States on a Fulbright Fellowship as well as a Japan Society fellowship, where he studied philosophy and religion at Columbia University in New York.


Matsuzawa developed his own eclectic philosophy of "conceptualism" (what would eventually be known as conceptual art). In its first phase, from 1957–1964, Matsuzawa created surrealist works based on his "Theory of Psi" based on his interpretation of parapsychology. In his second phase from 1964 onward, Matsuzawa reacted against the materialism of his earlier works and installations, and created a new anti-materialist art - art that existed with few or no objects as part of it. Matsuzawa's idea was to encourage viewers to imagine art in their own mind's eye. His new form of art often consisted of absences - for example, a photo with part of it cut out or blanked. He also created "emissions" to be placed in a landscape, such as during his 1964 exhibition "Independent '64 in the Wilderness".


Matsuzawa died on October 15, 2006.