1. カルダー:そよぐ、感じる、日本
    Photo : Keisuke Tanigawa展示風景
  2. 奇跡的に実現、ブランクーシの大規模展がアーティゾン美術館で開催中
    Photo: Keisuke Tanigawaコンスタンティン・ブランクーシ「ミューズ」(1918年、2016年鋳造、​ブランクーシ・エステート蔵​)
  3. シュルレアリスムやポップアートにも影響、過去最大級のデ・キリコ展が開催中
    Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa「SECTION 5 新形而上絵画 」の展示風景(© Giorgio de Chirico, by SIAE 2024)
  4. Tokyo Contemporary Art Award 2022-2024 Exhibition
    Photo: Taisuke Tsurui'Cycle of L' performance at The Museum of Art, Kochi, 2020. Artist: Saeborg

12 best art exhibitions in Tokyo right now

What's on right now at Tokyo's most popular museums and galleries, from conceptual sculptures to immersive digital art

Edited by
Lim Chee Wah
Written by
Emma Steen
&
Darren Gore
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With an abundance of art shows happening this season, it'll be hard to catch all of the latest installations before they disappear. Nonetheless, we've got a list of the top art exhibitions taking place in some of Tokyo's most popular galleries to help you figure out where to start – we've also included free exhibitions in this list.

For a full day of art excursions, you should also check out Tokyo's best street art and outdoor sculptures, or fill your Instagram feed at the newly reopened teamLab Borderless.

Note that some museums and galleries require making reservations in advance to prevent overcrowding at the venues. 

RECOMMENDED: Escape the city with the best art day trips from Tokyo

Don't miss these great shows

  • Art
  • Sculpture
  • Kyobashi

One of the most influential figures in twentieth-century sculpture finally gets a comprehensive career retrospective in Japan. Romanian-born Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) is considered one of the pioneers of modernist sculpture, thanks to his bold exploration of pure form. Around 90 exhibits, including 2D works such as fresco, tempera and drawings as well as sculptures, demonstrate how his muse flourished after a period working as assistant to Auguste Rodin.

Brancusi’s artistic practice came to combine wild shapes influenced by non-Western art forms, such as African sculpture, with an acute sense of the materials he was working with. In earlier, plaster sculptures such as ‘The Kiss’ (1907-10), human and animal figures are abstracted yet still clearly identifiable. By the late 1920s however, as illustrated by the bronze-cast ‘Bird in Space’ (1926), Brancusi’s subjects are rendered as abstract silhouettes almost entirely distinct from their natural form.

This retrospective includes over 20 sculptures on loan from the Brancusi Estate, as well as works from other collections both Japanese and international.

The exhibition is closed on Mondays (except April 29, May 6), April 30 and May 7.

  • Art
  • Kamiyacho

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century, primarily for works that revolutionised modern conceptions of sculpture. This US-born artist fused artistic sensibility with his engineering training to invent the kinetic abstract mobile: the kind of moving sculpture with which he is most closely associated.

Calder’s dynamic metal-based creations loom magnificently large at what is the artist’s first Tokyo solo exhibition in almost 35 years, alongside static sculptures dubbed ‘stabiles’, as well as oil paintings and works on paper. ’Calder: Un effet du japonais’ explores, via around 100 pieces, the enduring resonance that this modernist artist’s work has with Japanese aesthetics and traditions. Though Calder never travelled to Japan, and avoided explaining the inspirations and concepts behind his work, a Japanese-style sensibility is perceptible in pieces such as 1963’s ‘The Pagoda’, a 10ft-high stabile featured here.

Other highlights reveal how Calder’s mobiles and stabiles embraced the extremes of stark all-black rendering on the one hand and pops of primary colours on the other. ‘Black Beast’ (1940) is a 14ft wide and 9ft tall stabile with a foreboding air, while ‘Untitled’ (1956) is a hanging mobile whose arrangement of leaf-like sheet-metal shapes demonstrates the artist’s pursuit of what he called ‘disparity’, over symmetry. The latter work is also a great example of how Calder’s mobiles can appear subtly different with each viewing, thanks to their multiple moving elements.

A special touch to this exhibition is given by the spatial design, which combines geometric principles favoured by Calder with references to modern Japanese architecture and materials.

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  • Art
  • Roppongi

This debut Japanese solo show from Chicago-born Theaster Gates takes place at one of Tokyo’s most prestigious art venues. Gates’s rise to prominence is very much part of the art world’s increasing recognition of the voices of African-American and other non-white communities. A truly multi-disciplinary creative – focused primarily on sculpture and ceramics but also working in architecture, music, performance, fashion and design – Gates strives to preserve and promote Black culture via projects as large as a Chicago initiative that has transformed over 40 abandoned buildings into public art spaces.

Also key to Gates’s vision, and a central theme of this show, is the influence that Japanese cultural and craft traditions have had on the artist over the past two decades. From initially travelling to Japan in 2004 to study ceramics, encounters and explorations over the subsequent decades have led Gates to formulate 'Afro-Mingei'. This is a creative ideology inspired by Gates’s identification of a spirit of resistance shared by Afro-American culture and Japan’s Mingei folk crafts movement. It imagines Black aesthetics and Japanese craft philosophies coming together in our globalised era to form a future hybrid culture.

  • Art
  • Ueno

Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978; Greek-born and of Italian parentage) astounded the art world of the 1910s with paintings of town squares and interior scenes that combined sharp clarity with distorted perspectives, disparate motifs, and a fantastical atmosphere in order to convey the strangeness that he felt was concealed just beyond the everyday. The artist later dubbed this style ‘metaphysical painting’.

This major retrospective is the first large-scale showing of de Chirico’s work in Japan in a decade. The artist’s almost seven-decade-long career is explored comprehensively through a series of themed sections including ‘Metaphysical Interior’, ‘Mannequin’ and ‘Piazza d'Italia (Italian Piazza)’. As these exhibits trace, after 1919 the artist pursued a more classical style of painting, yet still drew upon motifs from his earlier, more dreamlike work.

Surrealist trailblazers Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, themselves no strangers to the uncanny, were among those blown away by de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings. This show, which also includes the artist’s sculptures and set designs, is a rare opportunity to immerse oneself in de Chirico’s singular vision.

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  • Art
  • Kiyosumi

The Tokyo Contemporary Art Award, established in 2018, is a prize intended to encourage mid-career artists to make further breakthroughs in their work by providing winners with several years of continuous support. Here, the two winners of the award’s fourth edition each present shows that, despite their creative diversity, both involve visitors and their actions becoming key elements of the art. Through this, both shows lead audiences to examine their relationships: with fellow humans, animals, and society’s expectations.

Saeborg, born in 1981 and based in Tokyo, creates and performs as a latex bodysuit-clad ‘imperfect cyborg, half human and half toy’ that enables the female behind this guise to transcend such characteristics as age and gender. Here Saeborg presents ‘I Was Made for Loving You’, for which a section of the venue has been transformed into a life-sized toy farm. Visitors will experience a highly immersive installation-performance that transcends the boundaries between the body and synthetic materials, and between human and animal.

Michiko Tsuda (born in 1980 and working in Ishikawa prefecture) presents ‘Life is Delaying’, an installation that uses video to explore the notion of physicality. The work recreates the private world experienced by a family at home through the perspective of someone operating an old-school video camera. The piece was inspired by Tsuda’s childhood memory of a video camera appearing in her family residence. Here, fictitious documentation of a family, the smallest basic unit of society, is expanded upon to examine the positions of individuals within larger groups and systems.

The exhibition is closed on Monday (except April 29 and May 6), April 30 and May 7.

  • Art
  • Hongo

Tokyo Arts and Space (TOKAS) has since 2001 been holding this annual exhibition as part of its multi-faceted support for young and emerging Japanese talent. 2024 sees the event comprise solo shows by six up-and-coming artists, whose work encompasses painting, photography, video, installations and more, split into two sessions running from April through to June.

Part one (April 6 to May 5) features Chisa Takami’s ‘℃ | The Ring of 23 Degrees’, which comprises videos and performances on the themes of ‘ambiguity’, ‘voids’, and the ‘presence of mediating objects’ (performances held on Saturday and Sunday only; see website for schedule). Naoto Nakamura, meanwhile, presents ‘Fernweh Trupp’, in which a narrative written by the artist unfolds in an apartment-like installation which combines imagery, furniture, and sound design. Finally, Chiho Okuno contributes ‘Training for My New Body: I Want to See My Back’ in which videos, engravings and three-dimensional pieces depict the world as seen by rabbits, an animal that has a near-360-degree field of vision.

Part two (May 18 to June 16) then presents Kanako Hiramatsu’s ‘Heap Up Sand’, in which the artist takes inspiration from the activity of ants to create an environment that incorporates multiple perspectives. This is joined by ‘Dogs and FPS’ from Satoshi Kikuya, an animated work giving viewers the perspective of a character who becomes lost while following a dog. Finally, Sayaka Toda’s ‘Echoes of the Unspoken: The Silent Voices of the Vanishing’ presents photos and videos depicting the atelier of a fictitious artist who spent his life creating terracotta figures of naked women. In this Toda aims to give a voice to women who in the present day are increasingly liberated from such objectification.

This compelling programme takes place inside a downtown venue with distinct character: TOKAS’ Hongo space occupies a building constructed back in 1928, with its rugged concrete shell emblematic of an architectural style that flourished following 1923’s Great Kanto earthquake.

The exhibition is closed on Monday (except April 29), April 30 and May 6-17.

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  • Art
  • Marunouchi

Opens Saturday April 27

Animal life is not something commonly associated with Tokyo – a city that, arguably more than any other world capital, is built for human convenience. Nonetheless, as this exhibition vividly demonstrates, the relationship between Tokyoites and animals has run deep ever since the city’s establishment as Edo over four centuries ago.

Around 240 exhibits, on loan from the vast collection of the Edo-Tokyo Museum, explore this human-beast connection from the establishment of the Edo Shogunate in 1603 through to more recent times. This show is an expanded ‘homecoming’ edition of ‘Un Bestiare Japonais’, a highly acclaimed event held at Paris’ Maison de la culture du Japon in 2022 and 2023.

Tokyo’s love of cats and dogs, still highly evident today, is seen here in pieces ranging from ukiyo-e woodblock prints from the masters of that genre, to the often cute motifs used in both traditional crafts and more modern toys and ornaments. A print by the legendary Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858; shown in the exhibition’s second half) features a plump domestic cat as it gazes from a window, with Mt Fuji on the distant horizon. Less lovable creatures are referenced too, as in Harunobu Suzuki’s (1724-1770; exhibition’s second half) depiction of a mother and her child hanging up a mosquito net.

Edo and Tokyo history is illuminated through this diverse selection of exhibits. Pre-mass industrialisation, the city relied heavily upon the ‘labour’ of horses, and a section unique to this Tokyo edition features works, including nishiki-e paintings, depicting the horse-drawn carriages that ran on the streets from 1882 until 1903 as a form of public transportation.

Note: Content varies across the exhibition’s first (April 27-May 26) and second (May 28-June 23) terms. The exhibition is closed on Monday (or Tuesday if Monday is a public holiday).

  • Art
  • Takebashi

This one-of-a-kind exhibition is something of a three-way modern art love-in. A trio of world-class art museums – from Tokyo, Osaka and Paris – come together to present highlights from their collections in an imaginative new way. The exhibition concept itself draws upon the idea of the ‘trio’: key works from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Osaka’s Nakanoshima Museum of Art and the hosting MOMAT are shown in series of threes, with each group highlighting commonalities between the diverse works included.

The total of 34 trios, divided into seven chapters, is comprised of over 150 works from a lineup that reads like a who’s-who of modern art. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Salvador Dalí, Yves Klein, Yayoi Kusama, Henri Matisse, Yoshitomo Nara, Mark Rothko and Pablo Picasso are among the 100 artists featured, whose work encompasses painting, installations, sculpture, photography and more.

Trios and chapters avoid conventional means of grouping and categorising art, such as era, school or Western/Eastern. Instead a freer, borderless approach is adopted, which finds commonalities including subject matter, motifs, materials and the context in which the works were created. The result is some intriguing new ways to view, understand and enjoy modern art from the early 20th century through to the present day.

The exhibition is closed on Monday (except July 15, Aug 12) as well as July 16 and Aug 13.

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  • Art
  • Aoyama

The debut Tokyo solo show from Los Angeles-based artist, filmmaker and writer Miranda July is one that is pertinent to our social media-fixated times. F.A.M.I.L.Y. (the initials standing for ‘Falling Apart Meanwhile I Love You’), taking place at luxury house Prada’s landmark Aoyama building, is an Instagram-facilitated video installation born from the artist’s favoured method of initiating exchanges that she controls to some degree, while simultaneously inviting her counterpart in the dialogue to express desires and perform actions.

An array of screens span a section of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed flagship store, showing the results of a year-long artistic experiment in which July collaborated with seven complete strangers via Instagram. The artist sent these individuals a series of prompts, with their subsequent video responses then manipulated in her studio using the basic ‘cut-out’ tool of a social media video editing app.

These surreal performances see July and her participants together explore intimacy and personal boundaries through a new form of physical language, with the artist hoping the project might achieve what she sees as one of the promises of Instagram: that the user is looked at so lovingly that they finally ‘feel okay’.

  • Art
  • Shibuya

Shibuya has a major new contemporary art venue with the opening of this museum, designed to share selections from the formidable private collection of entrepreneur Kankuro Ueshima. The six-storey facility, located within a dramatically renovated building that previously housed the prestigious British School, is set up to display Ueshima’s collection of over 650 works, from foremost Japanese and international artists, to their fullest potential.

This inaugural exhibition approaches contemporary art from a variety of perspectives, with most unfolding over an entire floor of the museum. Down in the basement, the trailblazing spirit of abstract painting is explored through work that ranges in timeline from a 1991 work by Germany’s Gerhard Richter to a piece from London-based Jadé Fadojutimi, known for her investigations of identity and self-knowledge, that was completed just this year.

Spanning the first and second floors, meanwhile, is a look at individual expression that encompasses a breathtaking range of global talent: artists include Olafur Eliasson, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Dan Flavin and Theaster Gates, with several names being represented by multiple artworks. The power of collaborative efforts comes to the fore through pieces created by Takashi Murakami with late Off-White designer Virgil Abloh, and by Louise Bourgeois together with Tracy Emin.

The gaze of Japanese female painters is the theme explored on the third floor, through works by artists including Ulala Imai and Makiko Kudo, while on the fourth floor, works by Tatsuo Miyajima and others take diverse approaches to the notion of things changing and things disappearing. Finally, floor five is dedicated to a selection of paintings by Yoko Matsumoto, an abstract artist who derives inspiration from Western artistic modes while expressing an Asian sensibility.

Note that tickets are not available at the door; they must be purchased in advance online.

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  • Art
  • Omotesando

British-born artist Mark Leckey is a product of the UK’s ever-vibrant pop culture, and through diverse mediums he confronts youth, dance music, nostalgia, social class and history from an often countercultural perspective. The subcultural edge of his work – which encompasses film, sound, sculpture, performance, collage and more – additionally takes on a gritty incongruousness when enjoyed at Louis Vuitton’s sleek Omotesando exhibition space.

The French luxury house here presents two Leckey works from its collection. 'Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore feat. Big Red Soundsystem' (1999-2003-2010) is a film that, through a mash-up of archive footage, vividly traces the development of the UK’s underground dance music scene from 1970s disco through to the ’90s rave scene.

2013’s 'Felix the Cat', meanwhile, is a giant inflatable rendering of the cartoon cat that Leckey considers a pioneer of the digital age. Almost a century ago, this feline character was one of the first subjects to be transmitted as a TV signal.

Text by Darren Gore

  • Art
  • Digital and interactive
  • Harajuku

Step into an enchanted digital forest in this collaborative exhibition between teamLab and Galaxy. Now in its third iteration, the interactive experience is based on the concept of catching different digital creatures to study them before releasing them back into their habitat. As it's a digital art experience, you'll be using an app on the Galaxy smartphone to collect different prehistoric animals in the mystical forest.

Be gentle when approaching these critters! If you try to touch them they might run and disappear into the forest. If you're lucky, they might become curious instead and turn towards you. Nevertheless, the exercise here is to point your phone camera at them, release a Study Arrow in their direction, and capture them onto your screen so that you can learn more about their nature.

You can also work together with other visitors and shepherd the dinosaurs projected on the floor. This allows you to then deploy the Study Net and capture them into your phone. Once you've done studying them, you can release them back into the space.

While the exhibit is free, reservations are required so as to avoid overcrowding the venue. Each session is an hour long, with the exhibition open from 11am until 7pm daily. You can book a timeslot as early as three days in advance via the event website.

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