Azuma Kenjiro joined Movimento Punto in 1961 as a representative of Japan and the only member using sculpture as the main creative medium. Born in 1926 in Yamagata city, Japan, Kenjiro entered Tokyo University of the Arts in 1949, and travelled abroad to Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in 1956 to further his studies, thus commencing his time in Italy spanning six decades. In 1960, the artist joined the workshop of Marino Marini, who repeatedly reminded him to always be cognizant of his Japanese identity. Inspired by such advice, Kenjiro vowed to create an “unconstructed beauty, something that can only be felt by Japanese”, and eventually developed the MU series richly imbued with Eastern philosophies.
MU means “none” in Kanji and Chinese. MU-767 (Lot 1008) is a representative piece in the series; its abstract shape contains both geometric and symbolic elements. Viewing from the front, the sculpture is perfectly polished, symbolizing the refined nature and rigor of classical Eastern art. The mottled base, on the other hand, speaks of the unpredictability of history’s progression. Most importantly, however, the symbolic hollowed dots and lines break the completeness of the object and reveal the gnawling marks of time. Strongly surrealistic, this also echoes the symbol of the Punto Movement.
In 1963, when the Movement reached its peak, Kenjiro was awarded the Japanese National Museum of Modern Art prize, followed by a touring exhibition across seven major museums in the United States. In 1975, his work was acquired by the Vatican Museum, and became its first collection by a Japanese artist. Created during this time, MU-767 was also selected for the artist’s final solo exhibition in 2016. The edition number 0/3 means that the piece is an original version of the sculpture and indeed an extremely rare, valuable version.
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