Tarō Okamoto (岡本太郎, Okamoto Tarō) (February 26, 1911–January 7, 1996) was a Japanese artist noted for his abstract and avant-garde paintings and sculpture.
He was deeply interested in mystery and the occult through his years in Paris, where he had stayed for about ten years since 1930. He majored in ethnology under Professor Marcel Mauss (1872–1950) at the Université Paris Sorbonne and focused on studying the rites among tribes in the zone of Oceania. Okamoto also attended the Collège de Sociologie Sacré organized by George Bataille (1897–1962), and he participated in rites which were executed under silence in the darkness at the wood Saint-Germain in a faubourg of Paris, as a member of Acephale, a secret spiritual society. He was know for saying, "Art is Magic" and "Art is Explosion."
Among the artists Okamoto associated with during his stay in Paris were André Breton (1896–1966), the leader of Surrealism, and Kurt Seligmann (1900–62), a Swiss Surrealist artist, who had was the Surrealists' authority on magic and who met Okamoto's parents, Ippei and Kanoko Okamoto, during a trip to Japan in 1936.
In 1964 Tarō Okamoto published a book titled Shinpi Nihon (Mysteries in Japan). His interest in Japanese mysteries was sparked off by seeing Jōmon wares in Tokyo National Museum. Since Okamoto found something mysterious in Jōmon ware, he journeyed all over Japan in order to research what he perceived as the mystery which lies beneath Japanese culture, and then he published Nihon Sai-hakken－Geijutsu Fudoki (Rediscovery of the Japan－Topography of Art).
One of his most famous works, Tower of the Sun, became the symbol of Expo '70 in Suita, Osaka, 1970. It shows the past (lower part), the present (middle part), and the future (the face) of the human race. It still stands in the center of the Expo Memorial Park.
His studio/home is also open to visitors and is located in Aoyama in Tokyo.