KAZAN - A Superb Imagination at Work

With over 100 pieces, many from outside Japan, this collection of work by Yokoyama Kazan is an unparalleled opportunity to see a survey of the work of a master. Kazan’s ability to adapt his style to fit the subject matter and his use of perspective make this exhibition especially interesting for the viewer. A 30 meter long scroll with beautifully intricate paintings of the Gion (Kyoto) festival in its entirety is so rare and detailed that scholars use Kazan’s work as an historical reference. Humorous depictions of people, landscapes, birds and flowers and daily life are rendered in sketches, ink drawings, and paintings on scrolls and screens.

Challengers in Nihonga - Taikan, Shunsō, Kokei, and Gyoshū

This exhibition commemorates the 120th anniversary of the Japan Art Institute, which promotes nihonga, or Japanese painting. Made up of about 50 paintings from the museum’s collection, the exhibition is centered around the works of Yokoyama Taikan, Hishida Shunsō, Kobayashi Kokei, and Hayami Gyoshū, all members of the institute. Highlights includes all eight paintings from Scenes from the Legend of Kiyohime, by Kokei and Gyoshū’s Camellia Petals Scattering, an Important Cultural Property, on view from October 16 to November 11.

Admiration for Sengai

Sengai was a Zen priest known for his ink drawings. He lived to be 88 years old and completed most of his drawings after his retirement at age 60. He saw long life as a gift and desired to pass along guidance toward enlightenment. The drawings depict famous places from his travels, landscapes, animals and flowers. English speakers miss out as none of the writing/calligraphy on the drawings is translated into English.

Utagawa Hiroshige

This is the Ota’s second Hiroshige exhibition this year, which marks the 160th anniversary of his death. If you like Japanese woodblock prints, make sure to see this retrospective of Hiroshige’s work. Highlights include pieces from the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō Road, Famous Places, and Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji series. There are also prints of beautiful women (bijin-ga), animals and flowers.

Foujita: A Retrospective Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of his Death

This retrospective of the Japanese/French artist Léonard Tsuguhara Foujita encompasses over 120 works, assembled from all over the world, from all periods of the artist’s life. The exhibition highlights his particular style, both personal and artistic, which might be described as his brand today. The works include his portraits and self-portraits, “milky white” nudes, art from his travels, his war paintings, and concludes with the art inspired by his conversion to Catholicism. And cats are a theme throughout.

Monet’s Legacy

Most art lovers enjoy Monet and the Japanese are no exception. Monet’s Legacy is like three exhibitions in one: beautiful paintings by Monet and works in homage to or inspired by Monet by artists inside and outside of Japan. Almost all of the Monets are from museums in Japan, providing an opportunity to see these works in one place. Works by international artists include artist superstars such as Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol and Willem de Kooning. The curators selected photographs, video and other types of artwork by Japanese artists to further demonstrate the influence of Monet. 

Isamu Noguchi: from sculpture to body and garden

Isamu Noguchi was a multi hyphenate: sculptor, landscape architect, painter, illustrator, furniture designer, set designer, and creator of the Akari paper lamps. The exhibition includes examples of all aspects of his artwork including sculptures; photos, videos and models of his fountains, large outdoor sculptures, playgrounds and gardens; beautiful sketches with calligraphy-like brush strokes (Beijing drawings); and photos and videos of set designs and costumes.

The Ryukyu Kingdom: A Treasure Chest of Beauty

A rare opportunity to see textiles, paintings, royal clothing and other artifacts, and lacquerware from the Ryukyu Kingdom. The kingdom’s unique textiles, created by stenciled resist dyeing with motifs that meld elements from Japan and other parts of Eastern Asia, and lacquerware are unlike pieces created in other parts of Japan. 

Audio Architecture

This exhibition is built around an original song by Keigo Oyamada, or Cornelius. Describing music as a type of architecture, the song is interpreted in nine different ways through video. Gallery 1 includes video of the song lyrics, the music represented in graphic form, and basically a music video of the musicians. The much larger Gallery 2 has a very large video screen that shows eight different videos by eight different artists or artist groups. You will hear the same song, a pleasant, jazzy, Steely Dan-type song, on repeat the entire time. 

Michelangelo and the Ideal Body

This exhibition draws a through line from Greek sculpture to Michelangelo, demonstrating the ideal male body from Ancient Greece to the Renaissance. The curators explain the emphasis the Greeks placed on the idealization of perfection as opposed to the unique, the athletic body, and the blending of male and female features. Spoiler alert: there are only two pieces by Michelangelo: David-Apollo, which is unfinished; and Young Saint John the Baptist, which is in pieces but has been reconstructed.  

Gordon Matta-Clark: Mutation in Space

Gordon Matta-Clark was an artist who active in the 1970s and is famous for his site-specific artwork. He cut through roofs, walls, and floors, creating openings in buildings and residences. The exhibition highlights his site-specific work through videos, photos and model. Information and artwork highlighting Matta-Clark’s interest and work in other types of art, architecture, street culture and food are displayed as well.

Mami Kosemura: Phantasies Over Time

Mami Kosemura presents what appears at first glance to be classic art - still lifes and portraits. Taking time with the works reveals modern twists. A still life of fruit reveals decay; the flowers in the vase are wilted and fresh. The artist combines photography and video to highlight change over time. 

TOP Collection: Learning - Into the Pictures

The Tokyo Photographic Art Museum’s (TOP) current exhibition theme is Enjoying and Learning and its latest exhibition is a beautiful collection of photographs from world famous photographers. The curators ask the viewer to take a closer look, to ask questions about the subject, to think about what’s going on out of the frame, to wonder about the photographer, to ponder what’s going on where the photograph is taken. Several photographs have questions provided to prompt the viewer.

The Miracle of M.C. Escher: Prints from The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

More than just the interlocking staircases from college posters, this exhibition is a rare opportunity to see a broad spectrum of works by M.C. Escher. The Israel Museum’s collection is rarely loaned out and is not on permanent display in Jerusalem due to the delicate nature of the prints. They are displayed by theme rather than chronologically and his more famous self portraits and optical illusions are located at the end.

Masters of French Landscape Paintings from The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

As encapsulated in the title, the exhibition consists of landscapes by French artists from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. The works span a period of almost 300 years, from the 17th to the 20th century. The curators do a nice job of explaining the progression from landscapes as backdrops for paintings of gods and saints to more  of an admiration of nature itself and scenes of everyday life. There is a  geographic movement of subject matter as well: from Paris to its outskirts to central and southern France.

Turner and the Poetics of Landscape

This exhibition presents works by John Mallord William Turner. There are over 120 paintings, watercolors and prints of landscapes, seascapes and ruins, depicting scenes from all over England and several sites in Europe. The works are grouped by topic rather than chronologically: topography, seascapes, landscapes of antiquity and mountains.