November 28, 2018 to January 20, 2019
Did you know that slim, accordion-fold fans are a Japanese invention? These fans, which have broad and deep roots in Japanese life, appearing in religious festivals, daily life, performances, and games, have evolved a rich decorativeness. Highly portable, ready to be enjoyed anywhere, they are perhaps our most familiar and accessible example of “Art in Life.” Moreover, folding fans have helped generate a diverse range of related works of art, including folding screens, handscrolls, craft arts, and textiles. In this exhibition, we introduce the enduring world of the fans so long beloved by Japanese.
Fans Floating on a Stream (Important Cultural Property; two of four panels from the north side of the first room in the Shogunate bathing rooms at Nagoya Castle), Edo period, ca. 1633
Nagoya Castle Office
February 6 to March 31, 2019
Kawanabe Kyosai, the “demon of painting,” was an artistic genius active in a great variety of fields. For many years, assessments of his oeuvre focused on his caricatures and his paintings of ghosts, demons, and other fey creatures. Recent research, however, has been revealing how, based on the brushwork techniques he carried on from the Surugadai branch of the Kano school and his highly individual sensibility, Kyosai expanded his range of activities. This exhibition will explore Kyosai’s achievements as he opened up his own path in the chaotic years at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and launch of the Meiji Restoration. In doing so, it will also highlight Kyosai’s artistic activities, particularly his engagement in ardent conversations with his predecessors’ works.
Winter Crow on a Withered Branch, Kawanabe Kyosai, Meiji Period, 1881
Eitaro Sohonpo Co., Ltd.
April 27 to June 2, 2019
When we encounter something beautiful, we usually experience two kinds of reactions. One may be moved by learning the background of the work or the artist, while the other one is an emotional excitement we feel for no apparent reason. Inspired by this duality, Oki Sato, chief designer and founder of nendo, proposes to enjoy this collection of Japanese art from two different perspectives; an informative way for the left side of the brain, and a more intuitive approach for the right side of the brain. In other words, this exhibition can be enjoyed twice. While you learn new things about Japanese aesthetics, you can also learn a little bit about yourself. So, do you prefer information or inspiration?
June 26 to August 18, 2019
“We are all born to play.” This famous line is from the Ryojin Hisho, a late twelfth-century collection of popular songs. In that spirit, this exhibition focuses on play, amusements, merrymaking as a theme in art. Games like sugoroku, a board game related to backgammon, or karuta, playing card games, dance, even fashion: men and women always become enthusiastically absorbed in enjoying all sorts of amusements. But their content changes over time. In this exhibition, famous seventeenth-century paintings and prints on the subject of recreation guide us to a deeper understanding of play in human life. Our fore-bearers made merry, sometimes artlessly, sometimes languorously. Let us imagine what merrymaking meant for them and what their secrets were for enjoying life in the floating world.
Screens of women engaged in various amusements,
The Matsuura screens (National Treasure), Right screen of pair of six-fold screens (detail）
Edo period, 17th century, The Museum Yamato Bunkakan
September 4 to November 10, 2019
In the Momoyama period (late 16th century to early 17th century), the tea ceremony inspired the creation of new types of Japanese ceramics. At Mino, a ceramics center in what is now Gifu prefecture, new tea wares—Kiseto, Setoguro, Shino, and Oribe—blossomed. These ceramics, with their strong shapes, colors, and designs, earned extravagant praise. In this exhibition, we explore the secrets of their serene, yet highly individual appeal while comparing them with other arts and crafts from the same period. Through famous examples, we also introduce the renewed appreciation of Mino tea bowls and their resurgent popularity in the twentieth century, in the Taisho and Showa periods.
Nezumi-Shino flat bowl with willow tree design, Mino, Momoyama period
16th-17th centuries, Suntory Museum of Art