Born in Osaka, Japan in 1932, Atsuko Tanaka is one of the most prominent members of the postwar Gutai art movement. She 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 City University of Arts, and later continued studying at the Osaka City Art Museum. She joined the Gutai Art Association (Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai) in 1955, together with Kazuo Shiraga, Saburo Murakami, and 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 Gutai disbanded 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.
It was only after her death in 2005 that she received international acclaim for her work. From 2002 to 2011, her solo retrospective toured through Innsbruck (Austria), New York (USA), Vancouver (Canada), Birmingham (UK), and Castelló (Spain). Her work was also featured at Documenta 12 (2007) and at the Sydney Biennale (2008), and is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.