The best art in Tokyo and nearby

I visited a bunch of galleries when I was on vacation and wrote down and/or drew all that I found especially memorable. (Side note: the combination of not being able to take photos in museums + not being able to find the artwork online is absolutely maddening.) Here’s some highlights…
National Museum of Western Art
Bonus anecdote: on the walk through Ueno Park on the way to the National Museum of Western Art, there was a contact juggler busking outside. His soundtrack was a jazz-lite Japanese flute cover of John Denver’s “Country Roads”. On my first morning in town, this was a welcome dose of home.

Orpheus and the Maenads – Auguste Rodin

Orpheus and the Maenads - Rodin

Fugit Amor – Auguste Rodin

Fugit Amor - Rodin

Diptych: Christ Crowned with Thorns/Mater Dolorosa – (workshop of) Dirk Bouts

Christ Crowned with Thorns - BoutsMater Dolorosa - Bouts

Gypsy in Reflection – Gustave Courbet

Gypsy in Reflection - Courbet

Beach of Trouville – Eugène Boudin

Beach of Trouville - Boudin

Tokyo National Museum
I couldn’t take (decent) photos of some of these, and the website is fairly useless for finding images. In any case, I’d never been much for the whispy suggestive evanescent Japanese tapestry “thing”, but these went a long way to changing my mind. There really is no substitute for standing in front of a piece of art.

I really liked this one landscape by Unkoku Togan:

Landscape by Unkoku Togan

There was also an amazingly simple watercolor of an Ox by Maruyama Okyo. Kind of like ensō in its simplicity.

Ox by Maruyana Okyo

In the town of Kamakura
The Great Buddha at Kōtoku-in Temple was so much better than I expected. Wow.

Buddha in Kamakura

In the Odawara Castle museum I got caught with my camera out. Ach! I really, really, really wish I’d gotten a picture of this one incredible painting by Okamoto Shuki. It had a peacock and some fish painted on four large cedar panels slightly smaller than doors. Incredible stuff:

Painting on Four Cedar Panels by Okamoto Shuki

In the Hakone Open-air Museum
Besides the landscaping, gardens, and outdoor sculpture, there’s also a whole building dedicated to stuff by Picasso. Who knew he did pottery?

I haven’t seen them anywhere online, but he did a series of 18 portraits of his wife Jacqueline, each slightly different in medium and execution. Awesome to see them lined up side by side on the gallery walls. I also liked his “Man with the Striped Shirt”:

Man with the Striped Shirt - Picasso

Another nice surprise in the Picasso wing was a ton of photography of Picasso taken by David Douglas Duncan. You can see a bunch of Duncan’s Picasso photos at the Harry Ransom Center (where else?). Well worth your time.

Picasso & Jacqueline - David Douglas Duncan

Lastly, Kyoji Takubo made a really cool obelisk, presumably one of more than one, that I haven’t been able to find anywhere. If I drew it it would just look like a stick, but rest assured it was cool.

Lesson Learned
I went to a handful of other galleries and museums besides these. The lasting lesson of seeing so much good stuff is that it made me want to acquire more of my own. I’ve already gotten started. What I’d really love is to have a giant chunk of marble or metal sculpture in my house… One fine day.

Posted in Art