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World War II: Yasuka Goto gets up close and personal

Jan 10, 2017

World War II: Yasuka Goto gets up close and personal

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Some artists from earlier generations like Tsuguharu Foujita (also known as Leonard Foujita) have been “outed” in the past decade or two and are now almost celebrated for producing incredibly complex propaganda paintings complicit with Japan’s World War II ideology. For others, however, such ...

Dec 31, 2016

Proposal for Hokusai exhibit at British Museum raises concern

Renowned ukiyo-e master Katsushika Hokusai has been attracting renewed attention in Japan. In November, the Sumida Hokusai Museum opened in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward, where Hokusai (1760-1849) spent most of his life, displaying about 1,800 items, including artworks and documents. The artist has recently been ...

Raku: A traditional contemporary art form

Dec 20, 2016

Raku: A traditional contemporary art form

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At the opening of “The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl: Transmitting a Secret Art Across Generations of the Raku Family” at The National Museum of Modern Art, in Kyoto, the current head of the Raku family, Kichizaemon XV (b. 1949), explained that the event ...

Collier reviews the power of observation

Dec 20, 2016

Collier reviews the power of observation

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To reframe Picasso’s famously pithy remark “good artists copy, and great artists steal” for the contemporary art scene, appropriation can be used in an artist’s work to borrow authority from history, or to subvert it. The iconoclasm of the latter can be satirical, as ...

Tokyo: photogenic to its very core

Dec 13, 2016

Tokyo: photogenic to its very core

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Care to take a guess what the new exhibition “Tokyo, Tokyo and Tokyo” at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum is about? In fact there are two exhibitions with the same name running concurrently, so it’s “Tokyo, Tokyo and Tokyo” and “Tokyo, Tokyo and Tokyo.” ...

Young artists to keep your eye on

Dec 13, 2016

Young artists to keep your eye on

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In Kurt Vonnegut’s 1982 novel “Deadeye Dick,” a Japanese man walks into an all-night drugstore and gestures for the protagonist, Rudy Waltz, to follow him outdoors. There they gaze at the decapitated cupola of Rudy’s childhood home, glistening white in the moonlight. It reminds ...

Under Lucas Cranach's spell

Dec 6, 2016

Under Lucas Cranach's spell

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Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) is acknowledged as one of the greats of the German Renaissance. His combination of religious piety and fleshly eroticism went on to inspire artists across the globe, including many in Japan. Despite his standing worldwide, however, Cranach’s career and ...

Early days for Sejima's Hokusai museum

Dec 6, 2016

Early days for Sejima's Hokusai museum

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At some point in the future, the new Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo will be considered with great affection by a lot of people. Like Tokyo Tower and Starck’s Asahi Beer Hall — which have had their fair share of criticism but are now ...

A play on the idea of performance art

Nov 29, 2016

A play on the idea of performance art

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By the late 1960s, Japan’s early postwar avant-garde had largely petered out. The radicals of yesteryear were now 20 years older and the country had returned to material affluence and international acceptance symbolized by the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Following the anti-art movements from the ...

The alchemy of the avant-garde

Nov 29, 2016

The alchemy of the avant-garde

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“Abanga-do,” the Japanese loan word derived from “avant-garde” has a relatively wider usage than the original French term. The political philosopher Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) originally coined “avant-garde” as a rallying cry for art of the early 19th century to be a medium of ...