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Print 1 from the series <Then, Mr. Ay-o got drunk by the Rainbow> <Very popular story> <Event for prints> <Rainbow glass>

Rainbow night 8

Japanese Color Silkscreen

Print 1 from the series

<Then, Mr. Ay-o got drunk by the Rainbow> <Very popular story>  <Event for prints> <Rainbow glass>

by Ay-O, 1974

Print 9 from the series Very Popular Story. Event for Prints. Rainbow glass. Then, Mr. Ay-o got drunk by the Rainbow.
IHL Cat. #1050

About This Print and This Series

The first print in a series of 38 prints (the entire series issued in a portfolio by the Nantenshi Gallery, Tokyo) created by the artist in 1974.  The series witnesses an "EVENT", as described by Ay-o below, but only with himself in attendance, during which drinks are poured and Ay-O gets drunk.  This first print starts with an invitation, perhaps, to the EVENT and it is from this first print that the series takes its name <Then, Mr. Ay-o got drunk by the Rainbow> <Very popular story>  <Event for prints> <Rainbow glass>.

In the artist's words, as printed in the series portfolio:
As the conditions are prescribed by my individual sense for both physical and metaphsical [sic] space of life, my <EVENT> seems to aim at the metamorphosis by means of the <PLAY> of combining the conditions.
And, though everyday life stands as one of the conditions, usually it does not tend toward the direction of re-creating its temporal-dimension.
Or, the play might be the one for the metamorphosis, by means of taking in the dimension with the reason to combine which is undecided till it be completed; or the (unconsious) [sic] dimension without any reasons at all.
- AY-O-

None of the prints in the series are titled, although most of the individual prints are annotated in pencil in the top left corner with their sequence number in the 38 print series.

Ay-O used a 3M Color-in-Color1 photocopier, first introduced by 3M in 1968, to create the original prints. As he describes below, he initially created one print each of the series and then went back to 3M a few days later and made three copies.  Several months later when he realized the 3M copies were fading, he decided to return to Japan with his original copy "and make a silk screen out of it."  The prints in this collection are from the 54th of 75 portfolios containing the silk screen prints.

1 Color-in-color is a dye sublimation process in which infrared radiation causes dyes to be transferred onto paper.

Ay-O's Comments
Source: Ay-O’s Rainbow Prints Catalogue Raisonne 1954-1979, compiled by Sadjiro Kubo, Sobun-sha, 1980, p. 122-128. 

The date in the notebook is April 10, 1973.  It was the day when I made No. 261 “ <Then, Mr. Ay-o got drunk by the Rainbow> <Very popular story>  <Event for prints> <Rainbow glass>” at the office of 3M Company, 48 St., Lexington Ave., New York.  About a week earlier, Alison Knowles, a neighbor of 20 years whom I worked with at Fluxus, asked me to go with him and try the color copy machine.  They charged $80 an hour to use the machine and he wanted me to share the cost.  3M Company had just leased out the newly developed machine for public demonstrations.  Both my colleagues and myself could not resist novel things.  Anyone who tried out anything new with any success could claim it to be his original. During a panel discussion in Japan I was corrected by someone who said that that was not originality but priority.  But still I believe such is what originality is.

I had been for some time secretly setting my sights on the color copy machine because my constructions, paintings, prints were taking too much time to be completed.  I had tried my hand on such media as the 16mm. movie, still photography and Polaroid.  But they didn’t appeal to me.  Ultimately it boiled down to the question of color, and I thought that was what my work was all about.  The idea of the color copy machine had tempted me, but I felt too lazy to ring them up for an appointment.  So, Alison’s invitation delighted me.

We brought together every kind of material we could think of and discussed how to try them out.  The hourly charge was the same regardless of how many copies we made.  Even a single second should not be wasted. That day, Alison and I spent 30 minutes apiece on the machine, paying $40 each.

A week later, I made up my mind and went back to 3M Company alone with all conceivable materials in hand in addition to a number of rainbow-colored objects.  I had made an appointment to use the machine for three hours.  The thought of my $80 winging away every hour really worked me up almost to orgasm.  I tried to keep cool. If I was sure nobody would come into the room, I would have stripped myself down and made my own body the theme of my printing.  Machines tend to bring on a development too complex for us to follow.  I tried to control the rhythm of the color print machine as mathematically as I could.  Of the many things I brought there, wine glasses and bottles gradually became the main subjects.  I was the lone conductor of an event.  I flirted with the machine.  I thought that a great deal was achieved.

Now I have little hesitation about counting this among my best works, although I owe very much to Mr. Aoki of Nantenshi Gallery who published it in disregard of profit.  I took about a week to compile what I had got on the machine. Then I went back to 3M to make three copies of the final result, which I called my original print by the 3M color copy machine.  I called the work resulting from the first event as the original and regarded it as the plate for printing.  (The original print was shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1976.  It was eventually purchased by the museum.)  At that time I pasted up this series of prints here and there to see how they would appeal as a medium.  It turned out that the color of the prints began fading after a few months even in the shade.  The fear caught me that the prints would soon go out of sight.  So I decided to go back to Japan and make a silk screen out of it.

Arrangements were made with Nantenshi Gallery to have the prints phot-processed into a silk screen by Mr. Sukeda.  We needed some very good photomechanical process.  Then I was lucky to find Komine Sehihan Co., which gave me all-out support, profit or no profit.  Technically, each silk screen took six plates made through color dissolution.  Since the series consisted of 38 prints, Mr. Sukeda’s studio in Fukui soon became packed with their blocks.  I had used a scarlet case for my “Rainbow passes slowly”.  This time I made it purple, the color on the other end of the spectrum.  For the portfolio designed by Mr. Matsumura, I wrote a brief message myself, sparing the common practice of asking someone to contribute one.  Thus my Portfolio ’74 came into being.

The portfolio has as many as four titles.  Although each of them seems somehow to identify the theme, the portfolio has come to be best known as “Mr. Ay-O got drunk by the Rainbow.”  Some people told me that the preposition “by” in this title is strange.  But Alison said it did not matter.  I would like more people, a lot of people, to see this work of mine.  I would like them to add it to their collections, so that it will be appreciated the world over.  This, I think, is a nice piece that fully expressed what I wanted to say.  I even had some extra luck there: the machine broke down the moment I got drunk and produced an effect that would otherwise have been impossible.

The entire series of prints were originally shown in 1974 at the Nanteshi Gallery in Tokyo from February 4-16, 1974 and again at the Museum of Modern Art, New York from May 14-August 8, 1976.

The Entire Portfolio of Prints
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The Folder Containing the Prints

IHL Cat. #1248
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IHL Cat. #1248
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From the Catalog of the Exhibition Over the Rainbow: Ay-O Retrospective 1950-2006
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Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1050
 Title or Description
 untitled - marked "1" in pencil
 Series <Then, Mr. Ay-o got drunk by the Rainbow> <Very popular story>  <Event for prints> <Rainbow glass>
 Ay-O (b. 1931)
 Ay-O (pencil lower right)
 Publication Date February 1974
 Edition 54 of 75
 Publisher Nantenshi Gallery, Tokyo
 Printer 助田憲亮 Sukeda Kenryō; plate making and color separation Komine Co., Ltd.
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Miscellaneous printed on Arches paper made in France (watermark visible on some prints); each print is embossed "NE" in the lower right margin.
 Genre modern print - silkscreen
 H x W Paper 16 x 12 1/8 in. (40.6 x 30.8 cm)
 H x W Image 11 x 8 1/2 in. (27.9 x 21.6 cm)
 Collections This Print Museum of Modern Art 1.1976.1-38 (complete portfolio); Free/Sackler, The Smithsonian's Museum of Asian Art S1987.996.1-38 (complete portfolio)
 Reference Literature Over the Rainbow: Ay-O Retrospective 1950-2006, Fukui FineArts Museum, 2006, p. 57-64; Ay-O’s Rainbow Prints Catalogue Raisonne 1954-1979, compiled by Sadjiro Kubo, Sobun-sha, 1980, p. 122-128.