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Art that moves beyond our world

Nov 8, 2016

Art that moves beyond our world

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In the beginning, long before Netflix and Google Maps, our ancestors had only the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars to guide, dazzle and humble them. Naturally, as religions began to form, the first place to look was up, because surely that’s ...

Reality and imagination: a double brush

Nov 8, 2016

Reality and imagination: a double brush

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One take on the past two centuries of artistic development is as a cacophonous cache of “isms.” With latter-day Japanese museum curation, impressionism regularly glistens as the golden-haired, oft-cited draw among recurrent “ism”-titled exhibitions — historical precedents, collection-building imperatives, curatorial agendas and crowd-pleaser incentives ...

Opposing today's rising intolerance

Nov 1, 2016

Opposing today's rising intolerance

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It has been a bumper year for chauvinism. Deplorables around the world who feel that their livelihoods, identities and values are under threat from “others” have let it be known that they’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. If you ...

Every hero has a few human flaws

Nov 1, 2016

Every hero has a few human flaws

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Ryoma Sakamoto (1835-1867), among Japan’s most beloved heroes, came of age when U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry’s Black Ships arrived demanding trade relations and ending the country’s closed-door foreign policy. The old Japan ruled by the feudal Tokugawa shogunate was giving way to the modern ...

Sci-fi and fact at the Okayama Art Summit

Oct 18, 2016

Sci-fi and fact at the Okayama Art Summit

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The city of Okayama was flattened by incendiary bombs in 1945. Many people died, more than 12,000 homes were destroyed and Okayama’s centuries-old wooden castle burned to its stone foundations. In 1966, the donjon was rebuilt with modern concrete, which was likely made in ...

Thomas Ruff: in the grand scheme of things

Oct 11, 2016

Thomas Ruff: in the grand scheme of things

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Thomas Ruff is one of the key figures of photography in the postmodern era, and his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, will probably already be pencilled into your calendar if you have any interest in contemporary art. His work, along with ...

Loosening and tightening the corset on women's liberation

Oct 11, 2016

Loosening and tightening the corset on women's liberation

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When the historical significance of fashion is discussed, the multi-talented artist Jean Cocteau is often quoted as having said, “Style is a simple way of saying complicated things.” Many of the garments at the “Fashion and Interior Decoration in the 20th Century” exhibition, however, ...

Reconnecting Japan's ancient cultural hub

Oct 4, 2016

Reconnecting Japan's ancient cultural hub

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“When I visited Todaiji Temple in Nara, just after I arrived as a Chinese student in Japan about 30 years ago, I felt somehow nostalgic as it had an atmosphere of old China,” says Cai Guo-Qiang, as he explains his work for Culture City ...

Kanjiro Kawai sculpted a new vision of pottery

Oct 4, 2016

Kanjiro Kawai sculpted a new vision of pottery

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Japan’s history of ceramics stretches back for millenniums, with most spinners of clay remaining nameless. One star, however, did shape a new world of pottery: Kanjiro Kawai (1890-1966). Kawai left us 50 years ago this autumn. Thankfully, though, he bestowed upon us some of ...

Out of the ordinary comes a new art festival

Sep 20, 2016

Out of the ordinary comes a new art festival

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I’ve never been comfortable with the idea that Japan has three “most beautiful” places. It’s a tradition, or a received wisdom, if you like, to rank the triad of the land bridge Ama-no Hashidate, the rocky islands of Matsushima and the sacred torii in ...