Japanese art critics of the 1950s perceived the locus of a new materialist aesthetics in the new trends of informal abstraction emanating from the United States and France. This revealed a stark contrast with the idea of individual freedom that informed North-American discourse on Abstract Expressionism. Focusing on the writings of Miyakawa Atsushi, Haryū Ichirō, and Segi Shinichi, this article explores the political significance of the question of matter in Japanese postwar art criticism and indicates its importance for the subsequent development of avant-garde art in 1960s Japan.

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