Wolf Prize Laureate in Arts 2023
“for redefining the possibilities of art-making and transforming the parameters of visual art”.
Fujiko Nakaya was born in Sapporo, Japan. Her early interest in the connections between art and science was inspired by her father’s work and his belief that the realization of scientific truths depended on collaboration between human beings and nature. Like her father, a physicist renowned for his work in glaciology and snow crystal photography, Nakaya’s lifelong artistic investigation engages the element of water and instills a sense of wonder in everyday weather phenomena.
Fujiko Nakaya studied at the High School of Japan Women’s University in Tokyo and at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Her first solo exhibition was held at the Tokyo Gallery in 1962. Her work took a significant turn when she joined the Experiments in Art and Technology collective of artists and engineers (E.A.T.).
A bridge between the metaphysical and physical world, the fog has fascinated by its ability to blur the boundaries between reality and imagination. For Nakaya, it “makes visible things become invisible and invisible things—like wind—become visible.”
Working as part of the collective, she enshrouded the Pepsi Pavilion at the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka in vaporous fog, becoming the first artist to create a sculptural fog environment. Nakaya has worked with artificial fog extensively since, creating fog sculptures, and developing immersive and unstable environments, making her a pioneer of the genre. Nakaya is widely known for her early experiments in art and technology, as well as her work in video art. She co-founded the collective Video Hiroba and opened Japan’s first video art gallery. She has collaborated with many international artists and has participated in many international exhibitions.
Fujiko Nakaya, one of Japan’s leading artists, is awarded the Wolf Prize for being a longtime pioneer of work that intermingles the realms of art, nature, science, and technology. Her sculptures, films and videos, installations, and paintings, produced over a seven-decade career, engage fundamental subjects such as the environment, perception, and communication. Nakaya’s early concern with the artistic potential of natural resources, her embrace of nascent technologies, and her exploration of human interaction with our planet, have proven remarkably prescient. Half a century after she first developed the concept of fog sculptures, she continues to astonish audiences with the magic of work made at the junction of art and nature, poetry and science. At heart Nakaya is an experimentalist who disregards predetermined categories and, in so doing, expands the definition and experience of art.