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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 ...

Suzuki Kiitsu: Bringing modernity to Rimpa

Sep 20, 2016

Suzuki Kiitsu: Bringing modernity to Rimpa

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The artist Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1858) was long considered a late and somewhat minor player in the Rimpa school, which emerged in Kyoto early in the Edo Period (1603-1868). The Suntory Museum of Art’s current exhibition now re-evaluates Kiitsu’s career and his contributions to this ...

Nam June Paik has the last laugh

Sep 13, 2016

Nam June Paik has the last laugh

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Rapid, multilayered, fluid — the high-tech images created by Nam June Paik earned him the epithet the Father of Video Art. He may be most often associated with banks of television screens and intense, distorted video images, but as a new retrospective of his ...

Yosa Buson: A Japan-China relationship that works

Sep 13, 2016

Yosa Buson: A Japan-China relationship that works

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Of all the eminent Edo Period Japanese artists being celebrated this year, the honors have definitively gone to the eccentric painter Ito Jakuchu (1603-1868), whose 300th anniversary is celebrated in at least four retrospectives nationwide, some recently finished and others forthcoming Artists’ reputations belong ...

Japan's TOP museum sees the big picture

Sep 6, 2016

Japan's TOP museum sees the big picture

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After being closed for two years for major renovations, Tokyo’s best-known photography museum in Tokyo’s fashionable Ebisu neighborhood reopened on Sept. 3, just in time to celebrate its 20-year anniversary. The venerable facility now boasts a new look, improved exhibition spaces and a new ...

It's the end of the world as we know it, and we still feel fine

Sep 6, 2016

It's the end of the world as we know it, and we still feel fine

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Hiroshi Sugimoto’s “Lost Human Genetic Archive,” the inaugural exhibition for the reopening of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (now the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum), is an erudite and elaborate exercise in gallows humor. The theme is the end of civilization and human life, ...

The 'informel' whirlwind that swept across Japan

Aug 30, 2016

The 'informel' whirlwind that swept across Japan

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Taro Okamoto’s “Men Aflame” (1955) is a swirling fusion of figuration, surrealism and abstraction. The content addresses the irradiation of Japanese sailors onboard the Dai-go Fukuryu-maru by fallout from American nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll. The painting is part of the 1950s Japanese art ...

Subtle messages lie hidden in a corporate collection

Aug 30, 2016

Subtle messages lie hidden in a corporate collection

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Tokyo Station Gallery is showing a pick ‘n’ mix exhibition, “12 Rooms 12 Artists,” comprising a variety of modern and contemporary art acquisitions from the UBS art collection. There is no explicit curatorial imperative to connect or compare the works, so you’re free to ...