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 ...

Divided opinions on Divisionism

Nov 6, 2013

Divided opinions on Divisionism

By the time you get to the end of the Divisionism exhibition, now showing at the National Art Center Tokyo, you realize that this strand in the history of art is more about the journey than the destination. It’s like traveling through a world ...

Turner: Steering art toward Impressionism

Oct 30, 2013

Turner: Steering art toward Impressionism

One of the most impressive paintings at the “Turner from the Tate” exhibition now on at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum is “Spithead: Two Captured Danish Ships Entering Portsmouth Harbour” (1808). In some ways it is a run-of-the-mill, realist sea painting of the type ...

The importance of being Yokoyama

Oct 23, 2013

The importance of being Yokoyama

Big exhibitions of famous Japanese artists are usually held on important anniversaries of their birth or death. The Taikan Yokoyama exhibition now on at the Yokohama Museum of Art, however, breaks with this convention. Rather than marking the 150th, 100th or 50th anniversary of ...

Missing the light at 'Roppongi Crossing'

Oct 16, 2013

Missing the light at 'Roppongi Crossing'

I’ve always thought that the “Roppongi Crossing” exhibitions try too hard. They take themselves too seriously and usually end up missing the point. Held every three years at the Mori Art Museum, the shows bring together heavily curated selections of contemporary art in an ...

A Michelangelo appetizer

Oct 9, 2013

A Michelangelo appetizer

This has been quite a year for fans of Renaissance art in Japan, with all three of its giants — Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and now Michelangelo — featuring in exhibitions. While the da Vinci show was weak in content and the Raphael quite ...

Kohfukuji Temple: under divine protection

Oct 2, 2013

Kohfukuji Temple: under divine protection

Tucked away behind the main museums in Ueno, the Tokyo University Art Museum may not be on most people's radar, but it is definitely one of the city's top museums in terms of curatorial quality.

<em>Nihonga</em>: without the hand over the eye

Sep 18, 2013

Nihonga: without the hand over the eye

At its essential level, art is a battle between the eye and the hand; the first representing sensory input, the second artistic habit and convention. When the hand outweighs the eye, art can become over-stylized, clichéd, and eventually dead. Asian art has been particularly ...