Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum opens on February 16
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Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum opens on February 16

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Saeko Yamamoto

The Cleveland Museum of Art
syamamoto [at] clevelandart [dot] org
216-707-6898
Comprehensive collection of modern Japanese artworks rarely seen outside of Japan

CLEVELAND (February 5, 2014) – The Cleveland Museum of Art presents Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum, featuring fifty-five masterpieces of modern Japanese art from the late nineteenth to the twentieth centuries, including six Important Cultural Properties of Japan designated by the Japanese government. Drawn exclusively from the holdings of the Tokyo National Museum in a range of media including painting, sculpture, tapestry, ceramics and calligraphy, this exhibition marks the first time that a collection of modern Japanese art of this size and quality has ever been displayed outside of Japan. Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum will be on view from February 16 to May 11, 2014 in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall.

Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum at the Cleveland Museum of Art is a part of a unique cultural exchange. Now on view at the Tokyo National Museum through February 23, 2014 is Admired from Afar: Masterworks of Japanese Painting from the Cleveland Museum of Art, featuring highlights of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s stellar Japanese art collection as well as select works from the Korean, Chinese and European art collections. Admired from Afar will travel to the Kyushu National Museum from July 8 to August 31, 2014.

“Thanks to our long-term friendship and partnership with the Tokyo National Museum, it is our privilege to bring this important exhibition of art from a period in the cultural life of Japan to America,” said Fred Bidwell, interim director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “Audiences will be fascinated by how the currents of Japanese culture and style represented by our beloved collection of traditional art are reflected in the evolution of Japanese Modern art in these objects of superb craftsmanship and artistry.”

Japan opened its door to the world in 1854 after more than two hundred years of isolation from foreign culture. This monumental occasion drastically impacted traditional Japanese ways of thinking and habits, and artists were challenged to reconsider and reconstruct existing artistic methods and traditions. Subsequently, they experimented with ways to incorporate original techniques and styles into modern artistic culture and created masterworks that reflect a confluence of traditional Japanese style in concert with Western concepts and techniques.

“Despite a recent surge in Western academic interest in the arts of the Meiji, Taishō, and early Showa periods, there have been few major exhibitions on Japanese modern art in the United States,” stated Sinéad Vilbar, curator of Japanese and Korean art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. “This exhibition represents a special opportunity to bring Tokyo National Museum's holdings to a wider audience in the United States.” Several of the light-sensitive objects displayed in this exhibition, including Mount Fuji Rising above Clouds by Yokoyama Taikan (1868-1958), Meishō by Tsuchida Bakusen (1887-1936) and Spring Rain by Shimomura Kanzan (1873-1930), will rotate. The first rotation will be through Sunday, March 30 and the exhibition will re-open to the public on Wednesday, April 2.

Highlights of Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum include:

 

Portrait of Reiko, 1921 (Taishō 10). Kishida Ryūsei (1891–1929). Oil on canvas; 44.2 x 36.4 cm. Tokyo National Museum, A-10568. Important Cultural Property 
Kishida Ryūsei was part of a humanistic intellectual movement and this work, a portrait of the artist’s daughter Reiko, is considered the best-known Western-style painting in Japan. At first Kishida’s style was heavily influenced by Cézanne and other post-impressionists, but by the time this portrait was painted, influence from the Northern European Renaissance artists had changed his style to a markedly realist one.

 

Maiko Girl, 1893 (Meiji 26). Kuroda Seiki (1866–1924). Oil on canvas; 80.4 x 65.3 cm. Tokyo National Museum, A-11258. Important Cultural Property 
Born into a samurai family, Kuroda spent time in France, where he studied with the French painter Raphael Collin (1850–1916). Under Collin’s influence, he learned a style of painting that combined impressionism with the style of the academy, and his work was selected for the Salon de Paris. After returning to Japan, Kuroda became a professor in the Western Painting Department of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, where he incorporated anatomy and drawing of live models into the curriculum. This painting dates from the period when Kuroda had just returned from France and was visiting Kyoto for the first time.

 

Mount Fuji Rising above Clouds, about 1913 (Taishō 2). Yokoyama Taikan (1868–1958). Pair of six-fold screens, color on gold-leafed silk; 187.2 × 416.3 cm (each screen). Tokyo National Museum, A-10533 
Yokoyama Taikan said, “There are very few paintings of Mount Fuji that could be called masterpieces, because most of them only convey the mountain’s shape. Even a child can draw its shape. To really draw it, one must draw one’s own heart that is reflected in Fuji. And by ‘heart,’ I simply mean one’s own personality. It could also be called dignity, or spirit.” One of the first students at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, this artist was particularly interested in drawing what the eye cannot see, such as wind, space, sound and feelings.

 

Spring Rain, 1916 (Taishō 5). Shimomura Kanzan (1873–1930). Pair of six-fold screens, color on silk; 190 × 406 cm (each screen). Tokyo National Museum, A-10517 
A solitary woman holds up an umbrella as three women turn to gaze at her. The scene hints at the relationship between those who create rumors and those who are the subject of them. Rain is represented using the techniques of urahaku (applying gold leaf to the back of the silk) and urazaishiki (applying paint to the back of the silk to create soft hues). The painter Shimomura Kanzan was one of the first students at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and laid the foundations for nihonga, or modern Japanese-style painting.

 

Footed Bowl with Applied Crabs, 1881 (Meiji 14). Miyagawa Kōzan I (1842–1916). Ceramic with colored glazes; h. 37 cm, diam. 39.7 cm. Tokyo National Museum, G-105. Important Cultural Property 
Ceramicist Miyagawa Kōzan I initially produced tea wares in the style of Nonomura Ninsei, but later moved to Yokohama and opened his own kiln, where he began to make Makuzu-yaki ceramics for the export market. Makuzu-yaki had its roots in Satsuma-style kinrande, flower vases and pots decorated with flora and fauna using carving-like techniques and delicate overglaze enamel. This style gained popularity in foreign markets, and Kōzan I won a decorative ceramics award at the 1876 Philadelphia World’s Fair.

 

Priest of Brahmanism, 1914 (Taishō 3). Satō Chōzan (1888–1963). Wood with polychromy; h. 63.9 cm (with base). Tokyo National museum, C-1501 
Satō was appointed an artist to the Imperial Household and the Japanese Ministry of Education and Culture selected him as a Person of Cultural Merit. He created the statue of the ancient statesman Wake no Kiyomaro that stands near the Imperial Palace, as well as Magokoro (Heavenly Maiden), a sculpture still on display at the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Tokyo. This statue of a Brahman priest is one of Satō’s early works.

 

Excerpt from a Poem from the Man’yōshū (Collection of a Myriad Leaves), 1959 (Shōwa 34). Miyama Ryūdō (1903–1980). Two-fold screen, ink on paper; 68.8 x 121.1 cm. Tokyo National Museum, B-3148
Calligrapher Miyama Ryūdō brushes an excerpt of a long-form poem by Kasa no Kanamura that appears in the Man’yōshū (Collection of a Myriad Leaves), a poetry anthology compiled in the Nara period (710–84). Miyama’s influence extends today through the Ittou Calligraphy Society, which he helped establish.

Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum is accompanied by a 176-page full-color catalog that assembles over fifty works of the finest examples of modern Japanese art in a variety of media from the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, exclusively from holdings of the Tokyo National Museum. Essays by contributing scholars Hiroyuki Shimatani and Masato Matsushima explore the diverse sources of influence for Japanese artists around the turn of the twentieth century, such as Western oil painting, Buddhist sculpture and European porcelain. The catalog also examines and documents the transition period of Japanese art through works by artists who maintained a sense of continuity with the past while also integrating wide-ranging cultural inspirations for the modern age.

Tickets
Adult tickets for Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum and Van Gogh Repetitions are $20 and include re-entry to view the second rotation of objects. The exhibition is free for museum members. Complementary exhibition programming includes lectures, tours and educational programs.

Related Programming
Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum is accompanied by related programming. For more information and updates, please refer to www.clevelandart.org.

Gallery Talk: Remaking Tradition
Sunday, February 16, 2:00 p.m.
Free; exhibition ticket required.
Sinéad Vilbar, curator of Japanese and Korean Art, discusses Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan. Discover how Japanese artists invented new traditions for a new age by drawing on influences from both the Japanese traditional style of painting as well as from the emerging crafts tradition and Western styles of oil painting and sculpture.

Changing Images of the Body in Modern Japanese Art
Saturday, March 15, 2:00 p.m.
Free
The crucible of modern Japanese history stimulated creative approaches to depicting the human body. Japanese visual culture underwent extraordinary changes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries due to new media such as oil painting and photography, new audiences including foreigners at world’s fairs, and new spectacles such as train travel and the modern military. Focusing on works in the exhibition Remaking Tradition, Dr. Bert Winther-Tamaki, chair of Art History and professor of Visual Culture at the University of California, Irvine, examines modern transformations of traditional figures in Japanese art, including venerable spiritual teachers, formidable warriors, and kimono-clad beauties.

Captured Buddha: Kawabata Ryūshi's Rakuyō kōryaku and Japanese War Painting
Wednesday, April 16, 6:30 p.m.
Free; Sponsored by Case Western Reserve University.
Gregory Levine, historian of Japanese art and architecture, will reflect on Japanese Nihonga painter Kawabata Ryūshi’s (1886-1966) work, The Capture of Luoyang (Rakuyō kōryaku, 1944; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo). Levine will consider the circumstances, scenographies, and expressive intensities of Japanese war propaganda painting of the 1930s-1940s, but he will turn from the shock-and-awe of many such paintings to Kawabata’s elision of explicit violence, the painting's possible elegiac tone, and the significance of its representation of the Fengxian Temple icon of Vairocana at the Chinese Buddhist grottoes at Longmen.

Creating National Art: Constructing National Art Museums in Modern Japan
Wednesday, April 23, 6:30 p.m.
Free; Sponsored by Case Western Reserve University.
Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Art History presents their 25th annual Harvey Buchanan Lecture, featuring Dr. Alice Tseng, who specializes in the art and architecture of 19th and 20th century Japan. Tseng's research focuses on the 19th and 20th century history of institutional buildings, collections, exhibitions, and transnational and transcultural connections between Japan and Euro-America.

In Conversation: Remaking Tradition
Saturday, May 3, 2:00 p.m.
Free; exhibition ticket required.
Eriko Tomizawa-Kay, fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, discusses the development of new art forms in the Meiji period with Sinéad Vilbar, curator of Japanese and Korean Art.

MIX: 現代
Friday, March 7, 5:00–9:00 p.m.
East meets West in this exploration of cultural treasures. Take in the special exhibition Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum and enjoy cocktails, artmaking activities and music inspired by Japanese culture. Your MIX ticket grants free access to this stunning exhibition featuring Japanese art from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when Japan’s modern artists re-formed the visual presentation of traditional Japanese arts and incorporated influences from emerging Western styles of oil painting and sculpture. 現代,or “gendai” is Japanese for “modern.” Tickets $7, $9 day of event; CMA members FREE.

Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum is organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Tokyo National Museum. This partnership with the Tokyo National Museum is an achievement made possible by the support of the Japan Foundation.

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About the Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes almost 45,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. Currently undergoing an ambitious, multi-phase renovation and expansion project across its campus, the museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship, performing arts and art education. One of the top comprehensive art museums in the nation and free of charge to all, the Cleveland Museum of Art is located in the dynamic University Circle neighborhood.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is supported by a broad range of individuals, foundations and businesses in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. The museum is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Additional support comes from the Ohio Arts Council, which helps fund the museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. For more information about the museum, its holdings, programs and events, call 888-CMA-0033 or visit www.ClevelandArt.org.