Born in Osaka, Japan in 1932, Atsuko Tanaka is one of the most prominent members of the postwar Gutai art movement, who examined questions of human physicality and its relationship to the environment, pioneering the use of immaterial elements such as sound, light, and electricity in her works.
Tanaka graduated in Western Oil Painting from Kyoto Metropolitan University, and later continued studying at the Osaka City Art Museum. She joined the Gutai collective in 1955 along with Kazuo Shiraga, Saburo Murakami, Akira Kanayama, and was arguably the member of the group most active in kinetic, technological, and immaterial experimentation. She gained international acclaim for the work "Electric Dress" (1956) - a kimono constructed out of layers of wires,flashing bulbs, and neon light tubes, which she donned for performances. After the Gutai movement dissolved in 1972, Tanaka devoted herself to producing a series of lively, lyrical abstract paintings and drawings, calling to mind the immediacy and kinetic energy of her earlier works. She passed away in 2005.
After her death in 2005, she received international acclaim for her work. From 2008 to 2011, her solo retrospective toured through Innsbruck (Switzerland), New York (USA), Vancouver (Canada), Birmingham (UK), and Castillon (Spain). Her work was also featured at Documenta 12 in 2007, and in 2008 at the Sydney Biennial. Major collections include the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.