Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news, reviews, and commentary delivered directly to your inbox.

Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.

Posted inArt

The Unnatural Wonders of Japan’s Influential Rinpa Aesthetic

I always consider it fortunate that at institutions like the Metropolitan Museum, exhibitions continue to argue eloquently that art has evolved along manifold trajectories before postmodern discourses recognized it as so. In that vein, one of the highlights of the fall museum season, Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art, which explores a distinctive style that originated in early 17th century Kyoto and thrived well into the 20th century with far-reaching resonance in Post-Impressionism and Art Nouveau, promises more than an optical feast or a comprehensive academic survey.

Posted inNews

Japanese Tsunami Damages National Treasures

Beyond a rising death toll of over 10,800, the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan has also damaged a current total of 353 Japanese cultural landmarks, including temples, historic sites and iconic landscapes called “places of scenic beauty.” The Matsushima area, north of Sendai, is among the worst hit in terms of cultural damage. Sites damaged include Matsushima’s Zuigan-ji Temple, a Buddhist temple complex founded in 828 whose walls were cracked in the earthquake, as well as 3 other National Treasures.

Posted inNews

Japanese Modernist Landmark Preserved in Manhattan

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.

Posted inNews

Is Japanese Radiation Bad For Art? [UPDATE]

According to the Japanese Chunichi Shimbun newspaper, an exhibition called The Birth of French Impressionism set to open at the Prefectural Art Museum in Hiroshima City on April 5 has been canceled due to the cancellation of art loans from France. The loans seem to have been canceled because of fear of radiation damage to the artworks due to the Japanese earthquake and its aftereffects on the area’s nuclear power plants. No one wants to see an irradiated Cezanne! Yet a glance at a map of Japan shows that the French could be worrying a little too much. [Hat tip to Annie Bissett]

Posted inPerformance

Men Made of Marble

Every now and then, if lucky, you’ll encounter a mode of performance or an artwork that simultaneously requires and supplies a kind of attention that you didn’t even know existed. Sitting in an otherworldly, attentive, stupor, I had that experience watching marble white humans covered in a thin layer of dust on a stage that seemed to be both as empty as nothing at all and, at the same time, as full as a night sky.

As Sankai Juku begins their recent piece, TOBARI, everything melts into darkness and a lone human form materializes — bald, half-naked, monochrome; the dust looks like it’s marble or bone, maybe a thin layer of atomic ash, and it covers the body, which, for a while, is motionless; a quiet, lunar presence in a dark room.