Nobuo Sekine

Born 1942 in Saitama prefecture, Japan.

Graduated in 1968 with a M.F.A. in Painting, studying under artist Yoshishige Saito.

From 1968 into the 1970s, Sekine worked internationally as a central figure of “Mono-ha” (translated literally as “School of Things”), a movement considered instrumental in the formation of postwar Japanese art.  Phase—Mother Earth, an earthwork first constructed in Suma Rikyu Park, Kobe, in 1968, is widely recognized as marking the beginning of Mono-ha, and as one of the most iconic works of this period in Japan.

In 1970, Sekine represented Japan in the Venice Biennale with Phase of Nothingness, consisting of a large natural stone supported by a mirrored stainless steel column.  The sculpture is now in the permanent collection of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.  Sekine remained in Europe after the Biennale, exhibiting in Italy, Switzerland, and Denmark.  Informed by his observations on art and architecture, urban and public space in Europe, Sekine returned to Japan to establish Environmental Art Studios, a public art agency, in 1973.

From 1978 to 1979, Sekine returned to Europe for the traveling exhibition of his work Phase of Nothingness—Black.  The solo exhibition toured from the Künsthalle Dusseldorf, Germany, to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands; and the Henie-Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden, Norway.

In 1993, Sekine and Phase—Mother Earth were cited by 30 participating critics, curators, and journalists in the survey “Sengo bijutsu besuto ten” (Postwar art best ten), featured in the prominent art magazine Bijutsu Shinchō.

In 2001, Sekine was included in the exhibit Century City at the Tate Modern, London, for his critical role in the burgeoning Tokyo art scene between 1969 and 1973.  He also participated in the Gwangju Biennale, Korea, the same year.

Selected exhibitions of Sekine and Mono-ha include Reconsidering Mono-ha, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2005; What is Mono-Ha? Beijing Tokyo Art Projects, Beijing, 2007; Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, 2012; Art Unlimited, Art Basel, Basel, 2013; Prima Materia, Punta Della Dogana, Venice, 2013; Parallel Views: Italian and Japanese Art from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, The Rachofsky Warehouse, Dallas, Texas, 2013.

Sekine is currently Visiting Professor at Tama Art University and Kobe Design University.