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On the funny side of the universe

Jan 5, 2016

On the funny side of the universe

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John Wood and Paul Harrison’s show “Some Things Are Hard to Explain” is proving to be a big hit at the NTT Intercommunication Center. The artists’ wry, tongue-in-cheek videos, drawings and animations are intentionally gormless and genuinely thought-provoking at the same time. One of ...

Gain the courage to scream with Yoko Ono

Dec 29, 2015

Gain the courage to scream with Yoko Ono

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The conceit of “From My Window” — an exhibition that covers Yoko Ono as a conceptual artist from the 1950s onwards — is to focus on her connection with Tokyo. Since it’s at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Contemporary Art, maybe that’s to be ...

Laurent Grasso alludes to a future in our past

Dec 29, 2015

Laurent Grasso alludes to a future in our past

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A funny thing happened on the way to “Le Forum.” Outside Ochanomizu Station, a small group of neo-Nazis had set up shop and were playing the Japanese national anthem. One of them was wearing a modified SS uniform and proudly let me take his ...

Exhibition of erotic Japanese art draws 200,000 visitors

Dec 25, 2015

Exhibition of erotic Japanese art draws 200,000 visitors

Japan’s first major exhibition of erotic art known as shunga, which ended earlier this week in Tokyo, drew more than 200,000 visitors during its three-month run, organizers said. Former Prime Minister Morihiro Hokokawa, who heads the Eisei-Bunko Museum where the exhibition was held, said ...

Smiling between the lines of ukiyo-e

Dec 15, 2015

Smiling between the lines of ukiyo-e

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Some art collectors enjoy the eclectic, picking up art pieces opportunistically — even randomly — usually when they find something at the right price. Others have more streamlined tastes and focus on a theme or genre, building up more consistent collections. The result of ...

Real beauty lies in rustic reality

Dec 8, 2015

Real beauty lies in rustic reality

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French society and culture has always had a fascination with the exotic, going back to the Chinoiserie of the rococo period, the Orientalist fascination with the harems and slave markets of the Middle East, and the Japonisme of the 19th century. One might even ...

Dressing up the fabric of time in Kobe

Dec 8, 2015

Dressing up the fabric of time in Kobe

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A dazzling show of 100 detailed replicas of historical women’s garments, “Kimono: From the Kofun to the Edo Period” at the Kobe Fashion Museum takes us back in time in two ways. The first way is obvious. The time span of the costumes on ...

Otto Kunzli's real 'statement jewelry'

Dec 1, 2015

Otto Kunzli's real 'statement jewelry'

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“Cozticteocuilatl is the Aztec term for gold and it literally translates into ‘the yellow feces of the gods,’ ” says Swiss artist Otto Kunzli, who is standing before his work at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. “It’s the yellow poops of the gods,” ...

There is a lot going on behind the closed doors of shunga

Dec 1, 2015

There is a lot going on behind the closed doors of shunga

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Japan’s first major shunga (literally, “spring pictures”) exhibition of erotic paintings and woodblock prints, is surprisingly hard work. As a venue for a ground-breaking assembly of images, which probably would not have been shown publicly if it were not for a highly successful shunga ...

Takashi Murakami's reluctant homecoming

Nov 19, 2015

Takashi Murakami's reluctant homecoming

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Ebisu Yokocho has never looked so fabulous. It’s the night before Halloween and costumed women with talon-like nails and feathered eyelashes snake their way through a boisterous crowd crammed into this narrow alley of food stalls and bars. The smell of booze and grilled ...

The ripple effect of Tawaraya Sotatsu's waves

Nov 17, 2015

The ripple effect of Tawaraya Sotatsu's waves

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‘The most important Japanese artist you’ve never heard of.” That is how James Ulak, senior curator of Japanese art at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, describes Tawaraya Sotatsu, the focus of the gallery’s current magnificent exhibition. The show presents the first in-depth ...