Paul Cezanne’s landscapes and Claude Monet’s water lilies are works the museum-going public is likely to be familiar with. With its annual Jam Session series, the Ishibashi Foundation’s Artizon Museum in Tokyo provides an opportunity to create an alternative context for viewing canonical pieces.
The series, which began in 2020, invites contemporary artists to play off the foundation’s substantial art collection, which includes artifacts from before the Common Era to postwar abstract expressionism. This year’s show, which runs through July 10, features the impeccably produced prints of photographic artists Toshio Shibata and Risaku Suzuki alongside the paintings by Cezanne (1839-1906) and Monet (1840-1926). There are also star cameos from ink painter Sesshu, Edouard Manet, Alberto Giacommeti and other major artists, whose works provide important beats in the exhibition.
Jam Session performs several functions at once. It provides exposure for two living artists whose work, much of which is new for this exhibition, is notable for being careful: The images demonstrate great technical precision and exude an air of thoughtful deliberation. The show also permits viewers to see art history; that is to say, we are given the opportunity to observe the development of ideas, composition and medium over time, instead of reading about it.