At only 40 years old, Japan Society’s low-slung modernist headquarters at 333 East 47th Street has just been named New York’s youngest landmark building by the state’s Landmark Preservation Commission. The structure, designed by Junzo Yoshimura and George G. Shimamoto and first completed in 1971, translates traditional Japanese architectural forms into a modernist idiom, bowing to neither but combining the two languages in an innovative and complex way. I spoke with Japan Society vice president Joe Earle about the landmark designation and his experience of the building itself.
Japan Society’s Goodbye to Hello Kitty
Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Japanese Art at Japan Society presents an alternative view of Japanese contemporary art, one separate from that obsession we seem to have with “kawaii” (cute) Japanese art, embodied by the pop culture icon of Hello Kitty, and exemplified in the Superflat work of Takashi Murakami. The artists on display here engage with a different side of Japanese culture, a side more invested in history, medium and prolonged looking. The exhibition is also a rousing, energetic call to action– rethink Japanese contemporary art!