Fujiko Nakaya

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Fujiko Nakaya
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao fog installation.jpg
Nakaya's Fog Sculpture #08025 "F.O.G.," Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain

Fujiko Nakaya (中谷 芙二子, Nakaya Fujiko, born 1933) is a Japanese artist, most noted for her fog sculptures.

Early life and education[edit]

Nakaya was born in Sapporo in 1933, where her father Ukichiro Nakaya, who is credited with making the first artificial snowflakes, was at the time an assistant professor at Hokkaido University. Her father later produced a number of documentary films and radio programs and founded Iwanami Productions, a producer of documentary and educational films, and was also an accomplished sumi-e artist.

She went to high school in Tokyo, graduating from Japan Women's University High School. After high school, she came to the United States to pursue a degree at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, USA.[1] She graduated from Northwestern with a Bachelor of Arts in 1957 and went on to study painting in Paris and Madrid up until 1959.[2]


After spending some time in Europe, Nakaya returned to Japan in 1960, showing her oil paintings in a two-person show at the Sherman Art Gallery in Chicago (1960) and later attaining her first solo exhibition featuring twelve of her paintings at the Tokyo Gallery (1962).[2]

Nakaya first gained prominence through participating in American art collective Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) created in 1967. She became the Tokyo representative for the group in 1969 which gave her the platform to create the world's first atmospheric fog sculpture for the Pepsi Pavilion at Expo '70 in Osaka. She has since established many other fog installations at galleries worldwide, including the Australian National Gallery, Canberra and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.[3]

She opened Japan's first video art gallery named Video Gallery SCAN by friend, collaborator, video artist Bill Viola in Harajuku, in 1980.[4] The gallery sponsored twice annual competitions for new works by artists, thus becoming a platform for promising new video artists to display their work. In 1987, Nakaya organized the Japan International Video Television Festival at Spiral in Tokyo.

Nakaya collaborated with architect Atsushi Kitagawara in the early 1990s to create a playground in which dense fog envelops visitors twice each hour. Visitors experience the sense of being lost as the fog develops and being found again as the fog dissipates. The work is intended to evoke a reverence for nature and a reminder of the cycle of life and death.[5]

In 2002 she acted as a consultant to architects Diller + Scofidio on Blur Building created for the Swiss Expo 2002 on Lake Neuchâtel inYverdonles-Bains. According to the pair, Nakaya thought their original idea unachievable, but "it was her idea about irregular nozzle concentrations that saved the day."[6]

She has received numerous awards including the Australian Cultural Award, the Laser d’Or at the Locarno International Video Festival, the Yoshida Isoya Special Award, the Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Award for artistic contribution to HDTV programming and the Special Achievement Prize at the 2008 Japan Media Arts Festival [1] Nakaya was awarded the Praemium Imperiale award in sculpture from the Japan Art Association in 2018. The first large-scale retrospective of Nakaya's work is on view at the Art Tower Mito in Japan in October, 2018 through January 2019.

In an interview on April 27, 2014 with Irene Shum Allen, Nakaya explains that she doesn't directly create images with her fog sculptures, instead the fog is a kind of transducer that reacts to the local meteorological conditions. She comments that the landscape can appear to be largely static until fog is introduced. With the introduction of fog, nature's stories and information are made more accessible to the observer.[7]

Fog Sculpture #94925 "Foggy Wake in a Desert: An Ecosphere," Sculpture Garden, Australian National Gallery, Canberra


  • 1970 : Fog Sculpture "PEPSI PAVILION", Expo'70, Osaka
  • 1974 : Fog Environment for David Tudor Concert "ISLAND EYE ISLAND EAR" (Collaboration with David Tudor, Jacqueline Monnier), Knavelskar Island, Sweden (Produced by E.A.T.)
  • 1976 : Fog Sculpture #94768: Earth Talk, The 2nd Biennale of Sydney, (renamed Foggy Wake in a Desert in 1983 for National Gallery of Australia, Canberra)
  • 1980 : Opal Loop/Cloud Installation #72503, for Trisha Brown Dance Company, New York (recreated in 1981, 1996, and 2010)
  • 1980 : Cloud Lake, The 11th International Sculpture Conference
  • 1980 : Fog Sculpture: Kawaji, Festival of Light, Sound and Fog, Tochigi (collaboration with Bill Viola)
  • 1981: Waterfall: An Integrated River, video installation at The Miyagi Museum of Art, Miyagi
  • 1983 : Fog Sculpture #94925: Foggy Wake in a Desert: An Ecosphere, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (permanent installation)
  • 1983 : Meltee-vee, video installation at Museum of Modern Art, Toyoma
  • 1988 : Fog Sculpture: Skyline, Jardin de l'eau, Parc de la Villette, Paris
  • 1990-1 : Four Wells, video installation, Tokyo Museum of Art,
  • 1992 : Foggy Forest, Children's Park, Showa Memorial Park, Tachikawa (Tokyo)
  • 1994 : "Greenland Glacial Moraine Garden", Ukichiro Nakaya Museum of Snow and Ice, Kaga City, Japan (Architect : Arata Isozaki), Kaga
  • 1998 : Fog Sculpture #08025: F.O.G., Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain (Permanent Collection)
  • 2001 : IRIS, Fog Sculpture in collaboration with Shiro Takatani in Valencia harbour, The 1st Valencia Biennial, Spain
  • 2004 : Fog Sculpture #28634: "Dialogue", Technology for Living: Experiments in Art and Technology, Norrköpings konstmuseum, Norrköping
  • 2005 : Fog Chamber-Riga #26422, for Conversations with Snow and Ice, The Natural History Museum of Latvia, Riga
  • 2010 : Cloud Forest, fog installation, light and sound in collaboration with Shiro Takatani, commissioned by the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]
  • 2011 : fog installation in collaboration with Shiro Takatani, Ishibutai Tumulus , Asuka Historical Park, Nara
  • 2011 : Fog Garden #07172 - Moss Garden Nicey-sur-Aire, Vent des forêts, Arrondissement de Commercy
  • 2013 : Fog Bridge #72494, Exploratorium, San Francisco
  • 2014: Veil, The Glass House, New Canaan, Connecticut
  • 2015 : "Fog Bridge", fog installation and exhibition at the Arnolfini Centre of Contemporary Arts, commissioned for IBT15 Bristol International Festival, England
  • 2018 : "Fog x FLO" includes five site-responsive installations along Fredrick Law Olmsted's Emerald Necklace in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy


  • 1976 : Australian Cultural Award -Fog Sculpture #94768 "Earth Talk"
  • 1983 : Finalist, The First International Water Sculpture Competition -Fog Performance "Louisiana Dump"
  • 1990 : Laser d'Or, Locarno Video Festival -Contribution of SCAN
  • 1992 : Minister of Construction Award -"Foggy Forest"
  • 1993 : Yoshida Isoya Special Award -"Foggy Forest"
  • 2001 : Minister of Communication Award -Artistic contribution to HDTV Programming
  • 2006 : Descartes Science Communication Prize, nominee, EU Commission -Curation of a science and art exhibition "Conversations with snow and ice" in Latvia
  • 2008 : Media Arts Festival, Special Achievement Prize -Contribution to Media Arts
  • 2017 : Commandeur, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France[8]
  • 2018 : Praemium Imperial Award in Sculpture, Japan Art Association

Other notable achievements[edit]

  • 1979-1998 : lecturer at Nihon University for the Department of Cinema, College of Arts
  • 1989: "System/apparatus for making a cloud sculpture from water-fog" Patent #1502386
  • 2017: Author Dan Brown, in the novel Origin (Brown novel), refers to the work of Nakaya as his character Robert Langdon visits the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain in search of former student Edmond Kirsch. Noting that the fog sculpture constantly changes shape, Brown uses the setting to create an ethereal and dramatic scene as Langdon enters the Guggenheim museum.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-07. Retrieved 2009-12-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b c "Anarchive n°5 - FUJIKO NAKAYA 中谷 芙二子 FOG 霧 BROUILLARD". anarchive.net.
  3. ^ "| Exploratorium". Exploratorium. 2013-04-04. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  4. ^ Birnbaum, Alfred. "Japan video." Mediamatic Magazine vol. 3 # 1 (1988).
  5. ^ Soloman, Susan (2014). The Science of Play: How to Build Playgrounds That Enhance Children's Development. University Press of New England. p. 42.
  6. ^ Phillips, Patricia C. (2004). "A Parallax Practice: A Conversation with Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio". Art Journal. 63 (3): 62–79. doi:10.1080/00043249.2004.10791135. ISSN 0004-3249. ProQuest 223299521.
  7. ^ "Interview with Fog Artist Fujiko Nakaya, The Glass House". VernissageTV. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Remise des insignes de Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres à Mme Fujiko Nakaya". Archived from the original on 2018-01-03. Retrieved 2018-01-02.
  9. ^ Brown, Dan (2017). Origin: A Novel. Doubleday. ISBN 9780385514231.

External links[edit]