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 ...

Situations that end up spoiling the artistic landscape

Jan 10, 2013

Situations that end up spoiling the artistic landscape

Imagine you went to a movie theatre that insisted on doing anything other than showing you an actual movie, or to a restaurant where the waiter did all he could to stop you having an actual meal. This is a situation I sometimes find ...

Visions that leave little to the imagination

Jan 3, 2013

Visions that leave little to the imagination

Art can sometimes be surprisingly serious and po-faced, almost as if it were seen as a kind of substitute religion. Luckily, none of this pomposity attaches itself to the work of Sasae Ono, one of Japan’s most talented artists in the 20th-century, and the ...

Show of hands for the National Museum of Western Art

Dec 20, 2012

Show of hands for the National Museum of Western Art

Sometimes it seems that hands have a mind of their own. They remember where the keys are on a keyboard and which brushstroke in a Chinese character comes next, without too much conscious input from the brain. The instinctive way they work can also ...

Nature that goes beyond its course

Dec 13, 2012

Nature that goes beyond its course

The easiest way to describe this exhibition is “The meeting of two Mets,” with the Metropolitan Museum of Art Tokyo serving as a venue for 133 works from its much more renowned New York version, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, known simply as “The ...

What lies behind Ben Shahn's lines of the times

Dec 6, 2012

What lies behind Ben Shahn's lines of the times

When an artist feels compelled to incorporate words and poetry into many of his artworks, we get a sense that he may have taken up the wrong profession. This feeling of being unsettled in his art is something that comes up again and again ...

Communion with the spirits of wood

Nov 8, 2012

Communion with the spirits of wood

When you first encounter the sculptures of Koji Tanada, you might get the initial impression that he’s being facetious or whimsical, and assume that his sculptures are all part of an elaborate practical joke, designed to drive home some droll but not very profound ...

Run away to Paris with Rouault's circus

Nov 1, 2012

Run away to Paris with Rouault's circus

Paris in its heyday — between one set of Germans marching in (1871) and another (1940) — is one of those fabled cities that exists forever in the human consciousness; one that is often prefixed with the word “gay,” in its earlier and truer ...

History that lingers in photography

Oct 25, 2012

History that lingers in photography

There is an unseen hand behind The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art’s latest exhibition, “The Angel of History.” On the surface, this is an eclectic, almost random mix of avant-garde photography that spans the last 80 years and includes the work of Man Ray, ...