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Watari Museum of Contemporary Art
Closes in 11 days

Integrating architecture with the environment was a fundamental concern for German architect Bruno Taut (1880-1938), who was influenced by the Utopian ideals of the early 20th century Garden City movement. Famous for his Glass Pavilion at the Werkbund Exhibition in 1914 and for his 1920s housing estates in Berlin — some of which are currently being considered for World Heritage status — his work is characterized by functionalist design adorned with bright colors.

Unfortunately, the exhibition currently at the Watari-um (www.watarium.co.jp) is overzealous in its attempt to immerse you in Taut’s world. The display is overcrowded; the multicolored stripes on the walls, presumably intended to complement his work, are distracting, and with much of the display consisting of text in Japanese only, the result is an exhibition that is overwhelming to all but the most enthusiastic reader, and nearly impenetrable to those who cannot read the language.

Nevertheless, in among the many notebooks, letters and postcards on display, the charm of Taut’s paintings and sketches stands out. He spent some of the last decade of his life in Japan, and his love of the country’s culture can be felt clearly in his small, contemplative ink drawings of Mount Fuji and Matsushima Bay. The fourth-floor exhibition space also explores his dedication to learning about Japanese craft-making, offering a more measured and coherent conclusion to the show.

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