Shusaku Arakawa was a Japanese artist and architect whose work probed deep philosophical questions and pushed at the boundaries of an artist’s role in society. Arakawa emigrated to the United States in 1961, arriving in New York City and quickly ingratiating himself with avant-garde leaders like Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and the writer and philosopher Madeline Gins, who he later married. In his two dimensional works or “diagram paintings”, he highlighted and investigated the mechanics of human perception and knowledge working with systems of words and signs.
Arakawa’s art pursued the “reversible destiny”. Pushing the conceptual into reality, Arakawa, along with Madeline Gins, worked to demonstrate how architecture and art could stop what stops us all: death. Straddling both the conceptual and the architectural, his art, in the ideal form of a house, kept people in a “perpetually tentative relationship with their surroundings” in order to keep their youth.