Documentary captures highs and lows of artist couple’s lives in ‘Cutie and the Boxer’

Ushio Shinohara painting with boxing gloves on in “Cutie and the Boxer.”
Ushio Shinohara painting with boxing gloves on in “Cutie and the Boxer.”ph0tos by RADiUS-TWC

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Cutie and the Boxer

Artists suffer for their art, but not as much as their wives, especially if they are artists, too. Back in the ’60s, Ushio Shinohara, a mohawked proto-punk with an assaultive style and a taste for pop art, action painting, and happenings of the day, made the move from Tokyo to New York City with mixed success. There, in 1972, he met 19-year-old Noriko, an art student who was smitten by this hell-raising seeming visionary, and married him.

Now Ushio celebrates his 80th birthday in a dumpy Brooklyn loft, still producing the same kind of stuff. In this alternately whimsical and grim documentary, Zachary Heinzerling relates the couple’s down-and-out, inspiring saga, which slyly comments on the ironies of the past half century in contemporary art.

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