Rubens' best work is collaborative

Apr 4, 2013

Rubens' best work is collaborative

The 17th-century Flemish baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens is a great historical painter, not because of the scenes from ancient Roman history that he sometimes painted, but because, when we encounter his works, we find ourselves trying to understand what kind of society could ...

Francis Bacon: The restlessness of human existence

Mar 28, 2013

Francis Bacon: The restlessness of human existence

In the 1989 Tim Burton film “Batman,” there is a famous scene where the Joker and his gang break into an art museum and vandalize masterpieces by the likes of Rembrandt, Degas, and Vermeer. But, just as one of his henchmen is about to ...

The diverse works of Asian women artists

Mar 14, 2013

The diverse works of Asian women artists

I don’t normally visit exhibitions in company, but this time I made an exception and press-ganged a female acquaintance to join me. The reason for this was that the show I visited, “Women In-Between: Asian Women Artists 1984-2012″ at the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of ...

Such sweet strokes of the Impressionists

Mar 7, 2013

Such sweet strokes of the Impressionists

A horde of Renoirs and other works from the high-water mark of Impressionism have descended on Tokyo — rampaging in their quiet, colorful way through the labyrinthine exhibition spaces of Tokyo’s Mitsubishi Ichigokan. “Great French Paintings from the Clark” mainly presents a riot of ...

Paul Delvaux's stuff of dreams

Feb 21, 2013

Paul Delvaux's stuff of dreams

Once you see the paintings of Paul Delvaux you are unlikely to forget them. The dreamlike mood and quaint atmosphere is unique and hypnotic. But where does the mysterious power of his art come from? The exhibition “Paul Delvaux: Dream Odyssey” at the Museum ...

Driven to shoot on the frontlines

Feb 14, 2013

Driven to shoot on the frontlines

The camera never lies — or does it? The double-barreled exhibition now on at the Yokohama Museum of Art suggests that it doesn’t always tell the truth either. “Two Photographers: Robert Capa Centennial/ Gerda Taro Retrospective” is a time-traveling trip back to the middle ...

Is this the art of noise?

Feb 7, 2013

Is this the art of noise?

If art is something that you want to feel comfortable with in your home, then Haroon Mirza is probably not your man. As the winner of the 2012 Daiwa Foundation Art Prize, British-born, ethnic-Pakistani artist Mirza is being introduced to Tokyo’s art connoisseurs with ...

Hidden truths laid bare in the details of realism

Jan 31, 2013

Hidden truths laid bare in the details of realism

With a population of around 35 million, Greater Tokyo is the ultimate “modernist” conurbation; a vast megacity, where something as old-fashioned as realist art might seem out-of-date and out-of-place. Maybe so, but on the metropolis’ western and eastern extremities stand two museums that, each ...

Humble origins of great architectural photography

Jan 23, 2013

Humble origins of great architectural photography

The last couple of shows at the Shiodome Museum have been colorful and varied affairs, but the latest exhibition, showcasing Yukio Futagawa’s photos of traditional Japanese houses taken in 1955, strikes a very different note. There is an absence of color and accompanying objects, ...

Hakuin: The sight of one hand clapping

Jan 17, 2013

Hakuin: The sight of one hand clapping

Most people know the famous riddle, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Many are also aware that it is connected with Zen Buddhism, and some will even know that it is a famous koan by the 18th-century monk Hakuin. A koan, of ...