All tagged Ueno Park

To-ji Temple: Kukai and the Sculpture Mandala

Even the title in English is a bit confusing to us non-Japanese -- where is the To-ji temple? What/who (it’s a who) is Kukai? Mandalas, they’re normally seen on paper or in powder form but as sculptures? This exhibition is an opportunity to see some of Japan’s most cherished National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. Almost all of the objects are from the To-ji Temple, which was built almost 1200 years ago in the then newly established capital of Kyoto. The exhibition tells the story of Kukai, the Japanese priest who had recently returned from China and established To-ji as the center of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. Kukai brought mandalas to Japan and he is believed to have arranged the statues in the sculpture mandala in To-ji’s lecture hall. The exhibition includes many statues, two dimensional mandalas, various ceremonial objects, and papers and ends with the The World of Mandalas, large room filled with incredible Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Wisdom Kings, and Devas.

Rubens and the Birth of the Baroque

Thinking about Rubens usually invokes images of women who “embrace their curves” as we say in today’s vernacular. This exhibition offers another view of this master by focusing on his years in Italy, from 1600 to 1608. This time in Italy, the center of ancient, Renaissance and Baroque art, and his access to sculpture of the ancient world and masters such as Titian and Tintoretto, greatly influenced his art.

Munch: A Retrospective

Edvard Munch’s The Scream is arguably one of the most famous works of art. This is your opportunity to admire it along with a wide variety of the artist’s work: self portraits, self photographs (early selfies), portraits, and landscapes. Other famous works, such as The Kiss and Madonna, are presented in multiple and in different media -- prints and oil paintings.

Making the Difference: Vermeer and Dutch Art

A unique opportunity to see nine (out of 35 surviving) original paintings by the Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer. Rather than sprinkling the Vermeer paintings throughout, the Vermeers are grouped together in one beautiful room at the end of the exhibition. The other paintings by 17th century Dutch artists such as Frans Hals, Jan Steen, and Pieter de Hooch are shown in groups: portraits, Biblical scenes, still lifes, and daily life. These paintings serve as context and set the stage to even better admire Vermeer’s artistry and skill.

Marcel Duchamp and Japanese Art

Over 150 pieces from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art provide a retrospective of the work of Marcel Duchamp. Highlights include early portraits, cubism paintings (including Nude Descending a Staircase), readymades (including Bicycle Wheel and Fountain), a replica of The Large Glass, and photographs. The exhibition outlines the artist’s travels, his female persona (Rrose Sélavy), his passion for chess, his production of replicas of his work, and his final work Étant donnés. The exhibition ends with about 10 pieces of Japanese art, which are presented through the lens of Duchamp’s readymades and reproductions.

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.

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.  

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.

Brueghel: 150 Years of an Artistic Dynasty

The Brueghel family and its influence is the focus of this exhibition. Works from four generations of artists, beginning with Pieter Bruegel the Elder,  and their contemporaries, are on display. Religious triptychs, etchings and engravings, ink drawings and oil paintings depict beautiful still lifes of flowers, gorgeous landscapes, allegories of senses and elements, and scenes from merchant and peasant life.  

Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia

Looking for something different? This exhibition offers the opportunity to see the land of Arabia from over a million years ago (!) through to present day. Recent archeology uncovered artifacts from prehistoric pre-Islam Arabia provide information about the area’s history and culture. The collection includes tools, pottery, jewelry, sculptures, frescos, incense burners and much more. 

Noriyoshi Ohrai: The Illustrator

Amazing, original artwork by the famous Japanese illustrator Noriyoshi Ohrai. The exhibition includes incredibly detailed, colorful paintings, pen and ink drawings and a room filled with printed movie posters and book covers. Ohrai's artwork was used for posters for Star Wars and Godzilla movies, books by famous Japanese authors, advertisements, and magazines. There are portraits of famous personalities, military art, and many science fiction images. A few paintings have rough sketches placed next to them, demonstrating the transition from idea to finished product.

Hokusai and Japonisme

Hokusai is not only one of Japan’s most famous artists but he is well known and beloved outside Japan as well. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to view Hokusai’s work side by side with famous French and other European art to see how the one influenced the other. Works by Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet demonstrate that Hokusai’s work featuring flowers, nature and the everyday poses of human beings directly influenced some of the world’s most famous artists. There are over 40 Hokusai woodblock prints over 200 Western art works.

Fear in Painting

This collection is based on Kyoko Nakano’s Kowai-e (scary paintings). There are 80 works by Western (European) artists depicting mythology, Bible scenes, the devil and hell, landscapes and death scenes.

Van Gogh & Japan

Japan has been and continues to be enamored with Vincent van Gogh. Japan was a source of great inspiration to van Gogh. His work is displayed together with some of the Japanese works that influenced his art. The last section details how van Gogh was idolized in Japan after his death and many famous Japanese painters and intellectuals traveled all over Europe to see his work.

The Living Treasures of France

Flowers made out of feathers, textiles that look like origami, fans that resemble pop-up books are just some of the treasures found in this exhibition. Made by France’s master craftspeople who are designated Maître d' Art, modeled after Japan’s Living National Treasure certification, these silver, leather, tortoiseshell, and glass works preserve traditional methods and highlight creative innovation.