Shizuko Watari (1932-2012)

The founder and director of the private Watari-um, Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Shizuko Watari died Dec 1 of heart failure at a hospital in Tokyo. She was 80 years old.
From 1972 to 1989, Watari was the director of the commercial Galerie Watari in Tokyo, which organized timely exhibitions for leading international and Japanese artists including Nam June Paik, Keith Haring, Marcel Broodthaers, On Kawara and Shinro Ohtake. In 1990 she opened the Watari-um in a distinctive building designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. Starting with a 1991 exhibition of Joseph Beuys, the Watari-um became noted for its exhibitions of historically significant international artists while also reflecting on the position of Japanese art in the international context. The institution also helped to establish connections between Japanese and Asian artists, through memorable projects such as “Chinese Contemporary Art 1997,” which included a large-scale performance by Zhang Huan.
Co-authored with her children Koichi Watari and Etsuko Watari, a publication documenting the institution’s activities, Yume miru bijutsukan keikaku: Watari-um bijutsukan no shigoto jutsu was published in August of this year by Nitto Shoin Honsha.

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