Understanding the fun side of Surrealism

Jul 31, 2013

Understanding the fun side of Surrealism

Part of the reason for the success of Surrealism in the 1920s and ’30s was its sexual dimension. This element, covered over by a veneer of respectable intellectualism, had a powerful attraction at a time when sexuality was much more circumscribed by social morality ...

The Pushkin's masterpieces cannot fail to inspire

Jul 24, 2013

The Pushkin's masterpieces cannot fail to inspire

There are a lot of people who wish that art had simply stopped around 1911 or so. If it had, we would have been spared many of the monstrosities that modern art then proceeded to unleash — urinals in art galleries, randomly distributed paint, ...

Japan's population of ghouls keeps coming back to haunt us

Jul 17, 2013

Japan's population of ghouls keeps coming back to haunt us

Caught up in the rush of modernity, it is sometimes easy to forget just what a unique and unusual country Japan is. An exhibition such as “Yokai: Demons, Folklore Creatures and GeGeGe no Kitaro” serves to remind us, by peeling back the surface of ...

The 'floating world' that drifted to the West

Jul 3, 2013

The 'floating world' that drifted to the West

The main pleasure of any extensive ukiyo-e (woodblock print) exhibition, like the “Floating World” show now on at the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, is the evocation of the unique civilization that underlies this particular slab of global modernity. Among the sleek office buildings of the ...

Art that bloomed with the Feinbergs

Jun 27, 2013

Art that bloomed with the Feinbergs

As a simple matter of economic convenience, some of the best art collections in the world started out going against established taste. By avoiding what was already highly valued — and therefore expensive — collectors could build up impressive collections that could then help ...

Everyday goods: the Japanese art of convenience

Jun 27, 2013

Everyday goods: the Japanese art of convenience

“Mingei” translates as “folk art” and is connected to objects that are made or used by ordinary people on an everyday basis. Usually this evokes hand-crafted objects, such as ceramics, baskets, items of woodwork, etc. As such, the term is evocative of the era ...

Making sense of medieval avatars

Jun 13, 2013

Making sense of medieval avatars

The Western model of sexual equality — one that drives women to focus on careers but also contributes to lower birthrates — may not be an entirely unmixed blessing, but the roots of the West’s gender attitudes run deep and stem from some interesting ...

<em>Mono no aware:</em> subtleties of understanding

Jun 6, 2013

Mono no aware: subtleties of understanding

The essence of the "Mono no aware and Japanese Beauty" exhibition, currently at the Suntory Museum of Art, is the appreciation of things in the shadow of their future absence.

Art born from  the disingenuous

May 30, 2013

Art born from the disingenuous

The most radical force in art is not, as most people assume, genius, inspiration or sheer talent, it is instead a lack of technical ability. Combined with a strong desire to be an artist, this can prove to be a powerful driver of change ...

Sometimes it's hard for Leonardo to impress

May 23, 2013

Sometimes it's hard for Leonardo to impress

The reputation of Leonardo da Vinci is like an inverted pyramid — a massive, impressive structure that can draw a vast audience, but stands on an extremely narrow base. Although regarded as one of the “Big Three” artists of the Renaissance — along with ...