Exhausting the sense of the beautiful

Feb 27, 2014

Exhausting the sense of the beautiful

The Aesthetic Movement, a loosely defined tendency in 19th-century European art, operated under the slogan of "art of art's sake" and believed beauty was the end, not the means.

The Pre-Raphaelites: Britain’s Romantic rule breakers

Feb 12, 2014

The Pre-Raphaelites: Britain’s Romantic rule breakers

Some paintings will always be identified with the place where you first saw them. You may even feel surprised to see them somewhere else. This is how I felt when I visited the Mori Arts Center Gallery, one of Tokyo’s high-rise art venues, to ...

The extent of Puvis de Chavannes' stately influence

Jan 15, 2014

The extent of Puvis de Chavannes' stately influence

When you enter "Arcadia by the Shore" it is not difficult to get a sense of why Puvis de Chavannes was so successful in his own day, and why his reputation later slipped far behind those of other painters then considered his inferiors.

Shimomura Kanzan kept <em>nihonga</em> clean and cool

Jan 8, 2014

Shimomura Kanzan kept nihonga clean and cool

Art can sometimes play a balancing or compensatory role in society, giving voice to neglected or superseded aspects of a culture. For example, the neo-feudalist ethos of Pre-Raphaelitism and the pastoralism of Impressionism developed against a backdrop of increasing urbanization and materialism. This can ...

Best of the West tops this year's major shows

Dec 25, 2013

Best of the West tops this year's major shows

Japan occupies an odd niche in the art world. Its own indigenous artistic traditions are balanced against an almost fanboy fascination with certain aspects of the canon of Western art, while there is an often half-hearted attempt to stay plugged into the global contemporary ...

The noisy posters of the silent 1920s

Dec 11, 2013

The noisy posters of the silent 1920s

When the Communists seized control of Russia in late 1917, they found themselves in a difficult position. According to Marxist theory, the revolution should have happened hundreds of miles further west in one of the more industrialized countries, such as Britain or Germany, with ...

A modern view of a neglected Impressionist

Dec 4, 2013

A modern view of a neglected Impressionist

The French painter Gustave Caillebotte has suffered more than most from the fact that he wasn’t Monet, Manet, or Renoir. As one of the second-ranking Impressionists, he has long been in the shadow of these more famous names with which his career is associated. ...

Portraits of an artist as a young man — and an older one

Nov 27, 2013

Portraits of an artist as a young man — and an older one

Yasumasa Morimura is a weird mixture of curator, artist and simple art lover. Throughout his career he has selected famous portraits and paintings of people and then faithfully recreated them, with the exception of superimposing his own face on the subjects. This is both ...