Tanaka was born in Osaka, Japan and became a pioneering Japanese avant-garde artist. She became an early member of the Gutai movement, full of avant-garde artists that believed artistic expression went hand-in-hand with body movement. This led to many performances that went outside traditional spaces. Inspired by rejecting traditional conventions of how artwork should appear, Tanaka began abstract experimentation in first paintings and sculptures, which featured objects from everyday life. Tanaka’s many drawings eventually led to her fascination with installations, notably the Electric Dress, and she continued to work with lights and electricity. This added a powerful element to her artwork in where the artwork literally maintains its power for decades beyond. Tanaka added another element to her performance that appealed to new senses and that was in the installation Work Bell, where the audience heard a unique symphony throughout the installation. Tanaka has inspired many contemporary artists in utilizing all the senses in exhibitions and installations.