| Nov 10, 2002

The mismeasure of Emperor Meiji

EMPEROR OF JAPAN: Meiji and His World 1852-1912, by Donald Keene. Columbia University Press: New York, 2002, 922 pp. + xiii + 18 pp. of illustrations, $39.50 (cloth) Like any great story, history prefers that its leading men (and women) have some sparkle, whether ...

The noble art of collecting

Oct 30, 2002

The noble art of collecting

Artists trying to earn a living before these days of government grants, international art fairs and global cultural celebrity were at the mercy of the people holding the purse strings. Teaching was (and remains) a way of getting by, but for the premodern artist, ...

Bon Appetit!

Oct 20, 2002

Bon Appetit!

Le Cordon Bleu. The name conjures up images of starched linen laid three-ply across a table, heavy silverware and plain white plates bearing artfully arranged food. “Cordon Bleu” was once synonymous with all that is best in cooking. And if, in these days of ...

The ugly truth about Pre-Raphaelite beauty

Oct 9, 2002

The ugly truth about Pre-Raphaelite beauty

Had Sigmund Freud psychoanalyzed whole eras, not mere individuals, the late 19th century would have been a prime candidate for his therapist’s couch. Take the example of empire-building Britain. Victorians may have been prudish to the extent of covering shapely table legs, but they ...

Everlasting beauty left by everyday lives

Sep 4, 2002

Everlasting beauty left by everyday lives

Two thousand years from now, what will archaeologists unearth from the ruins of our civilization? Cars? Rice cookers? For sure, examples of “technology” so outdated as to provoke incredulity. The U.S. government believes that future humans — or perhaps extraterrestrial excavators — will uncover ...

A total feast for the eyes

Aug 28, 2002

A total feast for the eyes

This is total theater. Shinkyogeki, new-style Beijing Opera, is a combination of almost every performing art known to the East and the West. It should be a cross-cultural mess — but it’s not. At its best, as in the staging of “Yang-kui-fei and Abe-no-Nakamaro,” ...

Afghan heritage is back from the brink

Aug 21, 2002

Afghan heritage is back from the brink

Like many exhibitions, “Afghanistan: A Timeless History” tells a story. It’s not the story of Afghan art, though; nor, despite its title, the story of Afghanistan itself — a country whose millennia of strife are expressed in every artifact now on display at the ...

Felicien Rops: Days of madness

Aug 14, 2002

Felicien Rops: Days of madness

The catalog of the Felicien Rops exhibition is wrapped in the anonymous brown paper more often used to disguise pornography than art. The display itself, now at the Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, would, if art galleries issued such things, come with a ...

Aug 11, 2002

One god to rule them all

All new regimes know their enemies. Having swept away the forces of the shogunate, the architects of the 1868 Meiji Restoration found themselves facing another foe. This fifth column was invisible: Its ranks were made up of yokai (ghosts) and bakemono (monsters), kappa (water ...

Artists of the Sun King eclipsed

Aug 7, 2002

Artists of the Sun King eclipsed

Even as art galleries and museums around the world contend with falling visitor numbers, stepping inside a Japanese museum can feel more like braving Mitsukoshi on the first day of the summer sales. But while it’s great to see art exhibitions packed with visitors, ...