Past Exhibitions

  • November 22 , 2016 - February 12 , 2017

MOMAT Collection

The collection exhibition from November 22 , 2016 - February 12 , 2017

Takeuchi Seiho, Monkeys and Rabbits, 1908

Welcome to the MOMAT Collection! Here are a few of the highlights of this installment of the exhibition.

Some of the Nihon-ga (Japanese-style paintings) are displayed for a limited period in order to help preserve the works. Of special note in this edition are several Important Cultural Properties, which are only shown publicly once a year. The exhibition is divided into two periods, the first running from Nov. 22 to Jan. 15, and the second from Jan. 17 to Feb. 12. During the former, viewers can enjoy Kaburaki Kiyokata’s Portrait of Sanyutei Encho in the Highlights section (Room 1, 4th floor), and during the latter, Yasuda Yukihiko’s Camp at Kisegawa (Room 10, 3rd floor).

This edition also includes several rooms devoted to individual artists. Room 3 (4th floor), for example, features the prominent Taisho Period painter Kishida Ryusei, and Room 4 focuses on the singular Nihon-ga painter Hada Teruo. Room 6 (3rd floor) showcases the war-record paintings of Nakamura Kenichi, and Room 7 is given over to Kawara On, an internationally renowned artist who died two years ago. Room 9 focuses on Alfred Stieglitz, one of the foremost American photographers.

Moreover, in conjunction with the Endless: The Paintings of Yamada Masaaki exhibition (held on the first floor), we present abstract paintings by some of Yamada’s contemporaries in Room 8 (3rd floor). And in conjunction with the Ei-Q 1935-1937: Seeking the “Real” in the Dark exhibition, held in Gallery 4 (2nd floor), we examine Japanese avant-garde painting of the 1930s in Room 5 (4th floor). Comparing these works with those on display in the special exhibitions promises an even more enjoyable viewing experience.

Take your time and savor the many and varied pleasures of this edition of the MOMAT Collection.


◆Works in the exhibition are subject to change.

The first: November 22 , 2016 – January 15, 2017

The second: January 17, 2017 – February 12 , 2017


Important Cultural Properties on display

The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Collection (main building) contains 14 items that have been designated by the Japanese government as Important Cultural Properties. These include nine Nihon-ga (Japanese-style) paintings, four oil paintings, and one sculpture. (One of the Nihon-ga paintings and one of the oil paintings are on long-term loan to the museum.)

The following Important Cultural Properties are shown in this period:


■Yorozu Tetsugoro, Nude Beauty, 1912

■Nakamura Tsune, Portrait of Vasilii Yaroshenko , 1920

■Kaburaki Kiyokata, Portrait of San’yutei Encho , 1930 (Exhibit Date: November 22 , 2016 – January 15, 2017)

■Yasuda Yukihiko, Camp at Kisegawa, 1940/41(Exhibit Date: January 17, 2017 – February 12 , 2017) 

◆Please visit the Important Cultural Property section Masterpieces for more information about the pieces.


Nakamura Tsune, Portrait of Vasilii Yaroshenko , 1920 (Important Cultural Property)

Yorozu Tetsugoro, Nude Beauty, 1912 (Important Cultural Property)

About the Sections

MOMAT Collection comprises twelve(or thirteen)rooms and two spaces for relaxation on three floors. In addition, sculptures are shown near the terrace on the second floor and in the front yard. The light blue areas in the cross section above make up MOMAT Collection. The space for relaxation A Room With a View is on the fourth floor.

The entrance of the collection exhibition MOMAT Collection is on the fourth floor. Please take the elevator or walk up stairs to the fourth floor from the entrance hall on the first floor.


4F (Fourth floor)

Room 1 Highlights * This section presents a consolidation of splendid works from the collection, with a focus on Master Pieces.
Room 2– 5 1900s-1940s
 From the End of the Meiji Period to the Beginning of the Showa Period

A Room With A View
Reference Corner


Room 1 Highlights

  The MOMAT Collection, drawn from the museum’s holdings, consists of over 200 works displayed over a 3,000-square meter area. To start off the exhibition, we present the “Highlights” section, consisting of some of the collection’s most essential works, including Important Cultural Properties. For the walls of this newly established space (part of a 2012 effort to renovate the collection galleries), we have selected navy blue to create a more beautiful contrast with the works. And to eliminate the glare of glass cases, we have chosen mat black for the floor, to enhance viewers’ concentration.

  This edition of the exhibition includes Nihon-ga (Japanese-style paintings) by Kikkawa Reika, Yuki Somei, Hirafuku Hyakusai, and Kaburaki Kiyokata, all of whom were associated with a Taisho-era research group called Kinreisha. Don’t miss Hirafuku’s Crane and Blue Waves, with its ebullient atmosphere, and Kaburaki’s Portrait of San’y utei Encho, an Important Cultural Property on limited display until January 15. In the Western-painting category, viewers can enjoy comparing works by Yasui Sotaro and Umehara Ryuzaburo, who were known as champions of “Japanese-style oil painting,” and Noda Hideo and Matsumoto Shunsuke, who reconfigured fragmentary images in montage-style works.


Henri Rousseau, Liberty Inviting Artists to Take Part in the 22nd Exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, 1905-06

Sekine Shoji, Three Stars, 1919

Matsumoto Shunsuke,
Black Flowers , 1940

Room 2 New or Old?

Yorozu Tetsugoro, A Cornfield in the Sun, c. 1913

 Determining the beginning of something is always a difficult task. The middle “m” in MOMAT stands for “modern.” But when did modern art really start? Half of these works were displayed in the Bunten, an annual exhibition launched by the Ministry of Education in 1907. Though opinions vary, some have suggested that this event marks the beginning of modern art in Japan.

 This was an era in which modern meant “avant-garde.” In other words, the recent past was seen as something old that should be rejected and surmounted. Though the Bunten was initially welcomed, it soon became a stronghold for rigid Academicism and a target of criticism among the younger generation. The rest of these works were made by artists who intentionally veered away from the exhibition.

 Do these works, created some 100 years ago, convey the feeling that new things are more magnificent than old ones or vice versa ?

Room 3 Resonating Ryusei

 Kishida Ryusei (1891-1929) was one of the most prominent Japanese modern artists. One way to enjoy Kishida’s art is to carefully compare his works.

 Take, for instance, these two self-portraits, made a year apart. The color, touch, and signatures are different in each work. The reason the male figure in the 1914 picture looks glummer probably has to do with the shading. Based on the date, we can assume that Kishida completed this painting the day before his daughter Reiko was born. (The 1913 work was made about four months after the artist got married.)

 Kishida’s portraits of Mr. Koya, a doctor, convey different impressions of the man through the use of watercolor or oil paint. The most immediate difference between the two pictures is that Koya is holding some Asian flatsedge in the oil painting, but are also some other differences. A closer look reveals subtle differences in his hairstyle, left eyelid, and the angle of his face.

 Plants appear in some of Kishida’s other works. For example, a picture of Reiko at five years old shows her clutching some creeping smartweed. She holds the plant differently from Koya, but which way has a more adult appearance? There is also some grass in Kishida’s painting of the pot. As we compare the plant pattern and signature, we realize that there is a quiet resonance between the forms.

Kishida Ryusei,An Apple Exists on Top of a Pot, 1916

Kishida Ryusei, Reiko, Five Years Old, 1918

Kishida Ryusei, Portrait of Koya Yoshio(Portrait of a Man Holding a Plant), 1916

Room 4 Hada Teruo

Hada Teruo, Moonlight, c. 1916

 In Room 4, we present pen drawings by Hada Teruo (1887-1945) from around 1916. They were acquired in 2012, but this is the first time all 11 (as well as a self-portrait) have been shown together.

 At the time, Hada’s works were consistently dark and gruesome. He visited pleasure quarters such as Yoshiwara and establishments of unlicensed prostitution in search of subject matter, and produced works such as Blood Pond (1919, collection of the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto). Hada was seen as all the more heretical because these were Nihon-ga (paintings made with traditional Japanese art materials). The strangeness of his subject matter comes across forcefully in these pen drawings as well.

 In fin-de-siècle Europe a good deal of art with a decadent mood, such as the work of Aubrey Beardsley (1872-98), was being produced, which evidently influenced Hada for a time. At the same time, he was a man with great warmth and love for humanity. Everyone who knew him relates that underlying his grim paintings was a wealth of compassion for their subjectsthe weak and criticism of social injustices.

Room 5 Avant-garde Painting of the 1930s

Migishi Kotaro, Butterflies Flying above Clouds, 1934

 In this exhibition, we examine Japanese avant-garde painting of the 1930s in conjunction with EI-Q 1935-1937: Seeking the “Real” in the Dark, currently on display in Gallery 4 (2nd floor).

 At the time that Ei-Q made his debut in the art world in 1936, Surrealism and abstract painting were attracting the attention of many young Japanese artists as part of the so-called “avant-garde.” While abstract painting was rooted in intellectual compositions, Surrealism was concerned with discovering irrational beauty that was not subject to the power of human reason. Though the two movements might seem like polar opposites, the ’30s were an age of mechanical development accompanied by an increasing anxiety toward the war – both pressing themes for artists. Ei-Q, who was interested in both abstract painting and Surrealism, searched for a unique way of capturing the reality of the times. In letters to a friend , he expressed admiration for artists like Koga Harue and Migishi Kotaro. At the same time, he was friendly with abstract painters like Hasegawa Saburo, Murai Masanari, and Onosato Toshinobu, with whom he formed the Jiyu Bijutsuka Kyokai (Free Artists’ Association).

3F (Third floor)

Room 6-8 1940s-1960s
 From the End of the Meiji Period to the Beginning of the Showa Period
Room 9 Photography and Video
Room 10 Nihon-ga (Japanese-style Painting)

Room to Consider the Building


Room 6 The War-record Paintings of Nakamura Kenichi

Nakamura Ken'ichi,
Kota Baru, 1942

  The painter Nakamura Kenichi (1895-1967) was born in Fukuoka Prefecture. After graduating from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now, Tokyo University of the Arts), he studied in Paris from 1923 to 1928. Using a solid, realistic depiction, Nakamura proved particularly adept at painting groups of people with urban manners. Partially due to the fact that his father-in-law was a rear admiral, Nakamura became actively involved in making war-record paintings during World War II.

  In Naval Battle off Malaya and Battle of the Coral Sea, machines (battleships and fighter planes) are the protagonists in a spectacle that unfolds across an expansive landscape. On the other hand, in Kota Baru  and Army-Navy Joint Operations on Tasivarongo Point, Guadalcanal, the artist captures a tense group of soldiers. All of these large pictures were based on on-site sketches, interviews with the military, and live drawings of soldiers made in Nakamura’s studio. As suggested by the fact that Kota Baru  depicts a Japanese attack from the perspective of the enemy, Nakamura did not simply paint scenes that he saw, but skillfully crafted them to heighten the dramatic effect.

Room 7 Signs and Circumstances of Survival

 The Bathroom series is an early work by Kawara On that he made when he was around 20. As the protagonists decrease, increase, and change places in the tile-covered room, they witness a blood bath, which lacks both context and beginning or end. Many viewers are likely to be reminded of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. In that novella, the main character, Gregor Samsa, awakes one morning to find that his body has been transformed into a “monstrous vermin.” Samsa simply accepts this as an ordinary occurrence – without either bewailing his fate or viewing the change as some kind of curse. Similarly, the men and women in Kawara’s works maintain their composure despite finding themselves in the midst of a tragedy. To shed light on the gratuitous nature (factual aspects) of human life and death, both Kawara and Kafka felt the need to distance themselves from standard realism, and adopt pseudo-sci-fi settings and manga-like approaches. The same focus on the factual nature of survival can also be seen in Kawara’s “Date Paintings,” a long-running series that he began in 1966. These works eternally convey the fact that the artist lived on a given date in a given year .

Room 8 From a Single Straight Line

Domoto Hisao, Solutions of Continuities 64-10, 1964

 In the past, the word “painting” signified something in which a figure was painted on a ground – as if an object perfectly occupied the space. After World War II, this convention was broken with a horizontal or vertical line that extended from one edge of the canvas to the other.

 These striped and grid-like structures, made with inorganic and endlessly repeating lines and rectangular units, are probably have no relation to the poetic quality of the “infinite cosmos.” This group of works proves that even when subjected to the limitations of such unimpassioned structures, it is abundantly possible to make a painting. They include a two-color construction that faintly rises up from the canvas once our eyes become adjusted (Ad Reinhardt); minute irregularities and fluctuations in countless forms depicted freehand without the use of masking tape (Onosato Toshinobu); slight ruptures and disparities in regulated patterns (Tatsuno Toeko and Sawai Yoko); and twists and varying speeds in horizontal brushstrokes that resemble a stream (Iwamoto Takuro). As we look at these works, our vision seems to vibrantly swing back and forth.

Room 9 Modern German Photography: New Vision and New Objectivity

Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe : A Portrait- Hands and Thimble, 1919

 Alfred Stieglitz was an important American photographer who played a crucial role in establishing photography as an art form.

 Stieglitz went to Germany to study photographic chemistry and Pictorialism, a type of photographic expression that was popular at the time. After returning to the U.S. in 1902, Stieglitz, based in New York, formed the Photo-Secession with a group of highly distinguished photographers living all over the country. He also went to great lengths to develop photography as an art by publishing a magazine and running a gallery.

 In his early works, Stieglitz focused on picturesque scenes on the street of the city, and by instantaneously capturing a perfect composition, he strove to create expressions that were unique to the photographic medium. His “straight” method of capturing a piece of the world without altering the negatives or prints gradually developed into what Stieglitz referred to as the “equivalent” aesthetic. In this approach, the subject, the photographer’s inner feelings, and the viewer’s sensibilities were all viewed as equals.

 In 1953, not long after MOMAT opened, Stieglitz’s widow, the painter Georgia O’Keeffe, donated a number of the photographer’s works to the museum. On the 70th anniversary of Stieglitz’s death, we present a group of works (primarily those that we received from O’Keeffe) that stretches from the beginning to the end of his career.


Room 10 Samurai in Painting

Kikuchi Keigetsu, Dedicating Lanterns, 1910

In Yoshitsune-den (The Legend of Yoshitsune) (Tokyo Bunkaido Shoten), published in 1914, Kuroita Katsumi (1874-1946) cites three men as embodiments of Bushido, the Way of the Samurai: Kusunoki Masashige, who faithfully served Emperor Go-Daigo of the Southern Court; Hojo Tokimune, who successfully defied the invading Mongols during the Genko War; and Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who fought fiercely to defend his clan. Kuroita states that these three samurai represent the three Bushido tenets of “loyalty”, “defense of the country”, and “piety” respectively, and all of them have been portrayed extensively in modern Nihon-ga (Japanese-style) painting.

From the start, history painting was a genre that embodied the values and ethics of the day, and was expected to play a role in public education. How did modern Japanese painters select and shape their subject matter in line with these expectations? In this section we present works from the collection with a primary focus on war paintings.

 By contrast, the section just ahead will have a peaceful theme: to celebrate the new Year of the Rooster, we present Nihon-ga paintings featuring a wide variety of birds. Look for a curious flightless bird from down under in Hieda Kazuho’s Kiwi.

2F (Second floor)

Room 11-12 1970s-2010s
 From the End of the Showa Period to the Present

Gallery 4

 * A space of about 250 square meters. This gallery offers cutting-edge thematic exhibitions from the Museum Collection, and special exhibitions featuring photographs or design.

 EI-Q 1935-1937: Seeking the “Real” in the Dark


Room 11 Special Aluminum

Suga Kishio, To-ku-san-yo, 2004

  Aluminum exists as part of a compound in nature. It was discovered in 1807 using an electrochemical. In 1887, a method of producing aluminum from the raw material of bauxite was developed.

  Aluminum smelting began in Japan in 1934. Light and strong yet flexible and easy to process, the metal was primarily used in the munitions industry. After World War II, aluminum became widespread in everyday items, and by the time it was chosen as the material for one-yen coins in 1955, aluminum had become completely commonplace.

  With the emergence of an artistic movement to question materiality in the 1960s, aluminum came to be a popular new material – along with stainless steel and synthetic resin. But in light of the fact that stainless steel is an alloy and synthetic resin is a high-polymer-, aluminum (with its ability to be artificially separated from compounds) is markedly different in terms of its material qualities. With this in mind, we present three works that employ aluminum as their chief component.


Room 12 Representative or Transcendent?

Ohtake Shinro, Retina (Wire Horizon, Tangier), 1990-93

  In this section, we introduce a group of paintings, dating from the 1970s and later, that are representative of each era.

  The ’70s are represented by Lee Ufan and Saito Yoshishige. Both in terms of theory and practice, Lee was a leading figure in Mono-ha, an important movement in Japanese art from the late ’60s to the early ’70s. For his part, Saito, a professor at Tama Art University, exerted a strong influence on young Mono-ha artists like Suga Kishio and Sekine Nobuo.

  The ’80s are represented by Ohtake Shinro. Along with Hibino Katsuhiko, Ohtake, who boldly adopted the installation format and design methods and sensibilities, is an iconic figure of the period. 

  The ’90s are represented by Nara Yoshitomo. Nara’s works not only incorporate visual elements associated with religious art and picture books, but also the musical spirit of rock and punk. In the sense that his work creates a strong affinity (or total rejection) with viewers, Nara has further developed the potential of painting.

  Of course, there are also works that transcend the spirit of the times in which they were created. One example of this is Murakami Tomoharu, who felt obliged to make paintings as an accumulation of everyday acts that are equal to prayer.

Collection Gallery, from the fourth to second floors
November 22, 2016 - February 12, 2017
10:00-17:00 (10:00 - 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)
*Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.
※Mondays (except January 2 and 9, 2017) and December 28, 2016 – January 1 and January 10, 2017 →See also Monthly Calendar
Adults ¥430 (220)
College and university students ¥130 (70)
*Including the admission fee for MOMAT Collection and EI-Q 1935-1937: Seeking the “Real” in the Dark.
*The price in brackets is for the group of 20 persons or more.
*All prices include tax.

*Free for high school students, under 18, seniors(65 and over), Campus Members, MOMAT passport holder.
* Show your Membership Card of the MOMAT Supporters or the MOMAT Members to get free admission (a MOMAT Members Card admits two persons free).
*Persons with disability and one person accompanying them are admitted free of charge. *Members of the MOMAT Corporate Partners are admitted free with their staff ID.
Free Admission Days:
Collection Gallery and Gallery 4
Free on December 4 2016, January 2, February 5, 2017
Organized by:
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo


Welcome to the MOMAT Collection !

Room 9 Photography and Video*

Room 10 Nihon-ga (Japanese-style Painting)*

A Room With A View*(Fourth floor)

At present, the museum collection consists of over 12,500 items. In this continually changing exhibition, we select a group of 200 pieces from the collection and display them in the 3,000㎡ gallery space across the three floors of the museum.
Exhibitions will be renewed every two or three months, with significant changes in the works on display. With a wide range of special displays, you are bound to encounter something new every time you visit the museum. The “Highlight Corner,” where you’ll find a variety of familiar works, and the relaxing “Nihon-ga (Japanese-style Painting) Corner” also promise a rich viewing experience.

There’s no time to delay!
Make that trip to the museum today!


*photo: Kioku Keizo

English Audio Guide Available! Helps appreciate and enjoy the collection!

An English Audio Guide to our collection exhibition MOMAT Collection is available. Listening to the guide while touring the collection galleries will help you discover various aspects of the exhibits.

■ Please ask at Reception on the first floor.
■ Please borrow and return the Audio Guide at Reception.
■ Charge: 300 yen(tax included)

Art Museum

3-1 Kitanomaru-koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8322


OPEN today

May 23, 2018 (Wed)

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