Best art exhibitions in Tokyo this autumn

Check out an exhibition on anime, explore art in Asian societies and contemplate art as a form of empowerment
Tsuyoshi Tane Archaeology of the Future
By Time Out Tokyo Editors |
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Fancy seeing an art show this weekend but no idea where to go? Well look no further. You can't go wrong if you head down to one of our favourite art exhibitions taking place in Tokyo this autumn. Alternatively, you could check out Tokyo's best outdoor art while the weather is still pleasant, or choose from all exhibits on right now

Top shows

The Phillips Collection: A Modern Vision
‘The Road Menders’, 1889, Vincent van Gogh. Oil on canvas. The Phillips Collection
Art

The Phillips Collection: A Modern Vision

icon-location-pin Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo, Marunouchi
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The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. is one of the world’s most distinguished collections of impressionist and modern American and European art. Founded by art collector Duncan Phillips in 1921, the modern art museum has been collaborating with institutions and foundations around the world to share its impressive collection. This year (2018), The Phillips Collection turns 100 years old, and to celebrate this centennial milestone, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum is hosting an exhibition with approximately 75 pieces of the Collection’s most treasured artworks. Among the highlights are all-time favourites by Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh.

Naiku, 1953; Jean-Baptiste Louis Gros, view of the Cathedral of Bogota, 1842
Art

Architecture x Photography: A Light Existing Only Here

icon-location-pin Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Ebisu
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The symbiotic relationship between photography and architecture began in 1827, when French inventor Joseph Nicephore Niepce (1765-1833) took the first ever photograph of a corner of a building through a window. Niépce was searching for ways to produce images, and thus set up a device called a camera obscura, which captured and projected scenes illuminated by sunlight. The result he got was a blurred image of a building, but from then on, a new medium was born and the link was created – photography has since been used to document old and new structures as well as cityscapes. Taken mostly from the museum’s collection, this exhibition will feature architectural stills by local and international photographers. The works on display include works from the late 1820s to newer works by contemporary photographers. Here you will discover and experience architecture from the photographer’s perspective.

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Masaya Yoshimura
Art

MINGEI – Another Kind of Art

icon-location-pin 21_21 Design Sight, Roppongi
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Mingei literally means ‘arts of the people’ and it refers to handcrafted objects produced by local craftsmen for everyday use. The term was established in 1925 by Soetsu Yanagi (1889 – 1961) who defined the art of mingei as ‘natural, sincere, safe and simple’. This exhibition at 21_21 Design Sight, titled ‘MINGEI - Another Kind of Art’, is directed by product designer Naoto Fukasawa. On display are 146 traditional and contemporary mingei items from The Japan Folk Crafts Museum's collection, handpicked by Fukasawa, along with his personal collection and photographs revealing new forms of mingei. This exhibition covers a highly associative exploration of the legacy of mingei that began to flourish the 1920s.

‘The Milkmaid’ (c.1658-1660), Johannes Vermeer, Rijksmuseum. Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt, 1908.
Art

Making the Difference: Vermeer and Dutch Art

icon-location-pin Ueno Royal Museum, Ueno
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One of the most celebrated 17th-century Dutch masters, Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) is the current feature at the Ueno Royal Museum. While Vermeer is known for his limited production (some scholars believe he only painted 35 pieces in total), this exhibition will be showing the most number of his paintings ever in Japan – nine, to be exact. Vermeer is considered a shadowy figure in the history of art as little was known about him and his importance until the 1870s when he was rediscovered, with 35 paintings identified as his. Recognised as a ‘master of light’, Vermeer’s painting captures the everyday life in 17th century Netherlands, depicting women in sparse domestic interiors. One viewing tip: Vermeer used light to guide the viewers through his paintings. Once you follow the natural lighting, the subject will draw you in. The closer you look, the more you will notice the details Vermeer put into not only light and colour but also the textures and the perspectives. (Do note that there may be changes in the exhibits during the exhibition run.)

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Art

Rubens and the Birth of the Baroque

icon-location-pin The National Museum of Western Art, Ueno
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Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) is widely known for his dramatic, highly charged paintings featuring Christian history and allegorical subjects. His unique style showcases a masterful handling of movement, colour and sensuality, and it has come to define the 17th century Baroque period in European art. You can get an up close look at his famous pieces at this exhibition, which brings together one of the largest displays of his works. There’s a particular focus on his relationship with Italy, where he lived intermittently for about eight years. And to add context, you’ll also find a selection of works by Italian artists of the same era.

Art

Lee Kit: We Used To Be More Sensitive

icon-location-pin Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Shinagawa
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Born in Hong Kong and currently working in Taipei, artist Lee Kit is known for his installations which use tablecloths, curtains and other everyday items to expand on the concept of ‘paintings’. His installations for the Hong Kong pavilion at the 2013 Venice Art Biennale were met with critical acclaim and led to him being regarded one of the leading artists in the Asian art scene. This exhibition, Lee’s first solo in Japan, is set at the striking Hara Museum – we can’t wait to see how Lee will transform this iconic building with his works.

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Art, Architecture

Tsuyoshi Tane | Archaeology of the Future

icon-location-pin TOTOGallery Ma, Nogizaka
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This solo exhibition follows Tsuyoshi Tane, an architect who works in Paris at DGT, a firm which he co-founded with Dan Dorell and Lina Ghotmeh. He rose to fame when DGT won the international competition to design the new Estonian National Museum which opened in 2016. Tane is also known for his collaborations with those outside of the architecture world, including conductor Seiji Ozawa. This time, his works will be displayed in two different exhibitions. Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery will play host to ‘Digging & Building’, a set of large-scale installations, while at the architecture-focused TOTOGallery Ma, visitors can follow Tane’s ‘archaeological research’ methodology.

Art

Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s–1990s

icon-location-pin The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Takebashi
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The changes that swept through East, Southeast and South Asia between the ’60s and ’90s are examined in this exhibition. More than 140 works from artists across the regions will be exhibited, with a focus on those that deal with the turbulent times of the era. Rather than grouping the art by geography, the exhibition is separated into three ‘chapters’, including ‘the city’ and ‘the collective’, which function as broad themes that link the works within. With different corners of the region having seen independence from colonial rule, rapid development, the Vietnam War and more in the span of 40 years, there’s more than enough to chew on here, including new visions of what constitutes society in Asia.

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Art, Painting

Munch Exhibition

icon-location-pin Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Ueno
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This retrospective exhibition celebrates the work of iconic Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, most famous for his masterpiece ‘The Scream’. Munch's work was heavily influenced by Impressionists the likes of Claude Monet and Edouard Manet, and he became a part of the Post-Impressionist movement, which was led by Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne.  Munch did not receive much appreciation for his art in his time, but he was eventually hailed as a pioneer of Expressionism in the world of fine arts. Nearly 100 pieces of his work will be exhibited, including oil paintings and master prints courtesy of the Munch Museum in Oslo. While there are multiple versions of ‘The Scream’, this is the first time the version created with oil paint and tempera is being shown in Japan.  Explore 60-plus years’ worth of paintings depicting deep human emotions such as anxiety and loneliness, as well as stunning natural landscapes of Norway, and works from his final years which feature vibrant, pigmented colours.

Art

Catastrophe and the Power of Art

icon-location-pin Mori Art Museum, Roppongi
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Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the always pioneering Mori Art Museum in Roppongi is pulling out the stops for its birthday with this show. The exhibition examines a host of catastrophes, including the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, through the artworks they inspired. A diverse range of artists including Yoko Ono, Tatsuo Miyajima, Thomas Demand, Chim Pom, Tomoko Yoneda and more are all set to contribute works. It certainly looks like a good opportunity to reflect on the pains these events have inflicted on modern society and to connect them with art and its power to rejuvenate.

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