Past Exhibitions

  • May 27 - November 5 , 2017

MOMAT Collection

The collection exhibition from May 27 - November 5 , 2017

Higashiyama Kaii, Road, 1950

  Welcome to the MOMAT Collection! Let us start by introducing a few of the notable pieces in this edition of the exhibition. First, in the “Highlights” display (Room 1, 4th floor), you will be greeted by works that are perfect for the summer season, such as Kaburaki Kiyokata’s Boating Excursion on the Sumida River (May 27-July 17) and Kawabata Ryushi’s Flaming Grass (July 19-Sept. 10).

  In Room 5 (4th floor), we feature Western modern art from the museum’s holdings. In terms of understanding the Western influence on Japan, these works are an indispensable part of the collection. And speaking of the relationship between the West and Japan, we also take a special look at Fujita Tsuguharu, who was active in Paris, in Room 6 (3rd floor), and at Kuniyoshi Yasuo, who worked in the U.S., in Room 7. We hope that you will enjoy retracing the footsteps of these artists who searched for their own identity in two different cultural spheres.

  From Sept. 12. to Nov. 5 , we present a small exhibit to Higashiyama Kaii in Room 8 and 10 (3rd floor). Though the museum contains a large number of works by Higashiyama, due to the artist’s popularity, they are often on loan to other museums. This is a rare opportunity to see them all at once.

   Finally, in Room 11 and 12 (2nd floor), we shed light on art movements of the ’60s and ’70s by focusing primarily on recent acquisitions.

   We hope that you will enjoy this edition of the MOMAT Collection, filled as it is with many and varied works.

translated by Christopher Stephens


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:


■Nakamura Tsune, Portrait of Vasilii Yaroshenko , 1920

■Kishida Ryusei, Road Cut Through a Hill , 1915

■Harada Naojiro , Kannon Bodhisattva Riding the Dragon, 1890, Long term loan (Gokokuji Temple Collection)

■Tsuchida Bakusen, Serving Girl in a Spa, 1918 (Exhibit Date: May 27 –  July 17, 2017) 

■Hishida Shunso, Wong Zhaojun [the Chinese princess], 1902, Long term loan (Zenpoji Temple Collection)  (Exhibit Date: September 12 –  November  5, 2017) 

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


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

Hasegawa Toshiyuki, Cafe Paulista, 1928

  Over 200 works are lined up in this 3,000-square-meter space – these extravagant conditions are the distinguishing feature of the MOMAT Collection. In recent years, however, we have received an increasing number of comments like, “They’re so many things to see, I’m not sure what to look at!” and “All I want to do is have a quick look at the important works in a short period of time!” This prompted us to create the “Highlights” corner to allow you to savor the essence of the collection, with a focus on Important Cultural Properties.

  In this edition, we will change the Nihonga works on display twice during the exhibition period to present a total of seven works. Of special note are Kaburaki Kiyokata’s Boating Excursion on the Sumida River (on view until July 17), a depiction of modern boating, Kawabata Ryushi’s Flaming Grass (on view from July 19 to Sept. 10), which portrays summer grass in gold paint on a dark blue ground, and Hishida Shunso’s Wong Zhaojun (The Chinese Princess) (on view from Sept. 12), an Important Cultural Property from Zenpo-ji Temple (Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture) that is currently deposited in the museum. In addition to Important Cultural Properties by Harada Naojiro and Kishida Ryusei, both mainstays in the field of oil painting in the Highlights section, we also feature two recent additions to the museum collection: Matsumoto Shunsuke’s Black Flowers and Yamashita Kikuji’s The Tale of Akebono Village.


Room 2 Meiji Painting: Realistic Depictions of Nature

Minami Kunzo, One Day in June, 1912

  One of the top priorities for Meiji Period artists, who struggled to modernize painting, was to depict nature in the most realistic manner. This was not only the case in landscape painting, but also extended to what was broadly termed “genre painting.”

  The first step was to come up with a special kind of framing. By detaching part of a forest with a bird’s-eye view, Kuroda Seiki’s Dead Leaves gives us the sense that we are actually roaming through it. By using framing that intentionally provides us with a fragmented view instead of describing the entire scene, the work sets out to reproduce a vivid experience.

  The second step was to establish a link between people’s lives and nature. The farmers cutting wheat in Minami Kunzo’s One Day in June, and the brawny sailors in Wada Sanzo’s South Wind are depicted as part of the natural landscape. This was apparently rooted in the notion that nature was something meant to be approached and conquered. Both works show men with bare chests in the center of the pictures, suggesting that the human body and physical labor were viewed with the same aesthetic terms as this applied to nature. This perspective was perhaps indicative of city dwellers.

Room 3 Love and Cream Buns

Ogiwara Morie, Woman, 1910

  Established in 1901, the bakery Shinjuku Nakamuraya is still headquartered in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. Its founders, Soma Aizo and his wife Kokko, loved the arts and many young artists gathered at the bakery. These included sculptors such as Ogiwara Morie, Nakahara Teijiro, and Tobari Kogan, and painters such as Nakamura Tsune and Yanagi Keisuke. Perfectly conveying the freedom of the period, associated with so-called “Taisho democracy,” Nakamuraya was one of the era’s most important art salons.

  The art salon concept originated in Europe, and its most significant feature was an attractive proprietress who discovered talented people. At Nakamuraya, Soma Kokko fulfilled this role. Ogiwara Morie was in love with Kokko and his work Woman is said to be based on her appearance. For his part, Nakamura Tsune fell first for Kokko and then later for the Somas’ oldest daughter, Toshiko. In both cases, however, his love went unrequited. As these examples suggest, in art salons during the Taisho democracy era, love was an important source of nourishment for art. So what about cream buns? In 1904, Nakamuraya became the first shop in Japan to make the baked delicacy.

Room 4 Artists’ sketched records of travels to India and Asia

Imamura Shiko, A Scene in Rangoon from Sketches from the Trip to India, 1914 (Exhibit Date: July 19 - September 10, 2017)

Kawabata Ryushi, An Island of Coconut Palms, Sketch in Yap Island, 1934 (Exhibit Date: May 27 - July 17, 2017)

  In this room we present sketches by Japanese-style painters Imamura Shiko (1880-1916) and Kawabata Ryushi (1886-1966) made while traveling abroad, with the featured works changed twice so the show has three sessions.

  Imamura boarded a cargo ship to India in 1914. The ship stopped in China, Singapore and elsewhere before berthing in Kolkata for 15 days. Imamura is thought to have obtained information in advance about China, and depicted well-known sights. Meanwhile, from his sketches of India and Southeast Asia, it is evident that the foreign visitor took an interest in the everyday lives of people in other countries.

  Kawabata traveled to the South Seas and China to make a series of drawings to be shown at the Seiryusha exhibition. At the time, territories such as Saipan and Palau were controlled by Japan. Also, as it was during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the artist was embedded with the former Japanese Army and Navy.

  These sketches show an admiration and passion for other countries. They are visually appealing and serve as historical materials convey the conditions of the time. On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that the creation of these sketches was inseparable from some element of oppression of foreign peoples.

Room 5 Is There an Absolute West?

Georgia O'keeffe, Hollyhock White and Green with Pedernal, 1937

  We are pleased to present a selection of works by non-Japanese artists produced between the 1890s and 1960s. At MOMAT, we have been long sought to position Japanese art (especially Western-style painting) in terms of its distance from the West, going back to the exhibition Development of Modern Western-Style (Oil) Painting: Europe and Japan, which was held in 1953 shortly after the museum opened. This process is similar to that of Japanese artists in the early 20th century, who looked at black-and-white reproductions of Western art in magazines and traveled overseas to see them in person, thereby establishing their own relative positions. At the time the West was seen as an absolute pole, a North Star by which to navigate. For this reason, the “non-Japanese artists” featured here are almost entirely Western in origin.

  It was not until the mid-1970s that the museum was able to purchase oil paintings by non-Japanese artists. Since then, we have been collecting works by these artists, from the standpoint of their influence on modern Japanese art.

 Today, the paradigm of “the West / Japan” has become more relativistic, and much work by artists who are neither Japanese nor Western has been added to the collection, but “the West” continues to be a crucial point of reference. As you view this section, take a moment to imagine what kind of inspiration Japanese artists may once have derived from these works.

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 Fujita, Foujita a.k.a. Léonard

   Fujita Tsuguharu was born in 1886 to the army doctor Fujita Tsuguakira and his wife Masa. In 1913, at the age of 26, Foujita moved to France after studying oil painting at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. In Paris, Foujita developed friendships with Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani, and searched for his own means of expressing himself. In the 1920s, Foujita became the darling of the École de Paris for his paintings of women, which were described as “le grand fond blanc” (milky white ground). With his bobbed hair and round glasses, Foujita, or FouFou (French for “frivolous person”), as he came to be known, even became a topic of conversation in fashionable circles.

   After traveling around Central and South America from 1931 to 1933, Fujita returned to Japan. In the late ’30s, he became involved in making paintings that documented the war, but after the war ended, he came under fire for cooperating with the military government. In 1949, Foujita returned to Paris by way of the United States, and in 1955, he became a French citizen. In 1959, he was baptized Catholic and assumed the name Léonard Foujita. The artist died in Zürich in 1969. We hope you will enjoy looking at Fujita, Foujita or Léonard’s works, a reflection of his multifaceted way of life, which was both national and international.

Room 7 Kuniyoshi Yasuo: Somebody Tore Something of Mine

Kuniyoshi Yasuo, Dusk in Autumn, 1929

  Where on earth are these women going as they head into this desolate area? Who is the woman standing in front of the ripped posters staring at?

  In 1906, Kuniyoshi Yasuo (1889–1953) moved by himself to the U.S. at the age of 17. He continued to work there most of his life, only rarely returning to Japan. Kuniyoshi lived through a turbulent period in which his motherland and his adopted homeland fought each other, and in his later years he was recognized as a prominent painter in the U.S.

  In 2004, 50 years after a posthumous exhibition of Kuniyoshi’s work (held in 1954, the year after his death), MOMAT presented a retrospective of the artist’s career. In this exhibit, centering on a group of works that are deposited the museum (which also led to the retrospective), we focus on Kuniyoshi’s post-World War II work.

  Depicting women and children, Kuniyoshi’s motifs are by no means unfamiliar. It is difficult, however, to decipher exactly what these figures are doing in a given situation and what these seeming absent-minded people might be thinking. Suggesting that the complex thoughts of those at the mercy of history should not simply be revealed to others, the truth in these works seems to be hidden behind multiple layers of a mysterious curtain.

Room 8 Special feature: Higashiyama Kaii

Higashiyama Kaii, Flowery Transformation, 1964

 The collection of the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo contains 17 full-fledged works by Higashiyama Kaii (1908-99) as well as 15 studies , 20 sketches, and 17 prints. The first work acquired was Afterglow, which won a special prize in the Nitten (the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition) in 1947 and was purchased by the Ministry of Education, and then transferred to this museum’s collection in 1953. The next acquisition was in 1969. This was the year the museum moved from Kyobashi to Takebashi, and became able to permanently exhibit works from the collection, which we had hoped to do since our opening. At this time Higashiyama himself made a major gift of 15 fully realized works including Road, the painting that cemented his reputation, sketches for a mural on the wall of the new Imperial Palace entitled Dawn Tide, and studies. Several more works have been donated since then.

 In Road, for example, the character of Higashiyama’s scenery is such that each viewer can project his or her own memories and emotions on it. This is no doubt the secret of his popularity. For this special feature, we present 17 of the artist’s works in Room 8 and part of Room 10. Also, in Room 10 are two works both entitled Heaven, by Sugiyama Yasushi and Takayama Tatsuo, which were shown alongside Higashiyama’s Flowery Transformation in the 1964 exhibition and made a great impact.

Room 9 Tamura Hideaki, Afternoon

Tamura Hideaki, From Afternoon, 1969

 Afternoon primarily consists of works published in a 30-part series in the gatefold of the art magazine Bijutsu techo between 1971 and 1973. This series was also shown in the Fifteen Photographers Today exhibition held at this museum in 1974. It was given the title Afternoon later when it was reconfigured along with landscape photographs taken in the early 1990s.

 The artist later said: “When I started shooting this series in 1971, I did not want to take pictures of things perse. After the difficult days of the conflict over the Japan-US Security Treaty of 1970, I felt like taking pictures of people and landscapes, that is intertwining heavy subjects with very light ones.” (Camera Mainichi, March 1983)

 Tamura’s words are borne out by the images that anchor the series, which convey a broad expanse of space, looking far off to the horizon or up at the sky. In the world of photography at the time, where importance was attached to the social meaning of images, Tamura was unique as “a thoroughly emotional artist” (Shigemori Koen) whose approach to landscape often involved capturing its sensation alone in images that verged on abstract.

Room 10 The Moon on an Autumn Night

Nakamura Daizaburo, The Noh Play "Miidera", 1939

 The first area of this room is a continuation of the special feature on Higashiyama Kaii in Room 8. The works here are all among Kaii’s finest, and together with the works in Room 8 make a total of 16 items. We hope you will enjoy these works, which are presented as part of the MOMAT Collection for the first time in a long time after being lent out to large-scale retrospective exhibitions.

  The glass case area in the rear of the room contains Nihonga (Japanese-style) painters’ works dealing with the moon. The moon is at its most brilliant in autumn, when the air becomes clear and pure. The late Heian Period (794-1185) poet Saigyo wrote a famous ode to the autumn moon: “Gazing at the autumn moon, its clear purity illuminates pain deep in the heart.”

  Why is it that many people, from ancient times to today, can sympathize with this feeling of sadness or longing when looking up at the moon? Modern artists have tried to unravel the mystery of the moon’s magical power over human beings. For example, Takayama Tatsuo sought to express through the moon the loneliness and insignificance of life, while Kayama Matazo and Sugiyama Yasushi seem to suggest that time on the moon flows differently than on the earth.

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.

Producing / Discussing / Looking at / Hearing, Sculptures
Primarily from the Museum Collection


Room 11, 12 Art of the 1960s and 1970s: New Additions to the Collection

Akasegawa Gempei, Impounded Objects: Wrapped in Model 1,000-Yen Note Ⅲ (Scissors), 1963

  Around 1970, artists revisited a practical approach to the question, “What is art?” Reconsidering basic modes of production and presentation, and criticizing the art museum as representing the authority of the establishment, they explored both rejection and expansion of the very concept of art. A key feature of this era is the idea or concept comprising a major part of the work. This tendency, which took various forms such as the recording of time (Kawaguchi Tatsuo, Kawara On, Nakahira Takuma), the exploration of exteriors (Akasegawa Gempei, Robert Smithson) and the use of new media (Idemitsu Mako), resulted in both works made with plain everyday materials and those that were entirely non-materiall, vexing people who had come to museums in search of “beauty.”

  If works that deconstruct art and criticize the museum as a system become part of a museum’s collection, does that deprive the works of their innate power and relegate them to the dustbin of history? Or does exhibiting these pieces present a valuable opportunity to re-examine and revitalize the museum’s entire collection? In this way, we hope that these works from the 1960s and 1970s will prompt people to “re-deconstruct” art in the 2010s.


Collection Gallery, from the fourth to second floors
May 27 - November 5 , 2017

10:00-17:00 (10:00 - 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)
MOMAT Collection and Gallery 4 open until 21:00 on Fridays and Saturdays during The Japanese House : Architecture and Life after 1945 (July 19-October 29)
*Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.
※Closed on Mondays (except July 17, September 18, October 9) and July 18, September 19, October 10 →See also Monthly Calendar
Adults ¥500 (400)
College and university students ¥250 (200)

*Including the admission fee for Producing / Discussing / Looking at / Hearing, Sculptures.

*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 for students after 5:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays between Friday, July 21 and Saturday, August 26, 2017.
*Evening Discount (From 5:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays) Adults ¥300
College and university students ¥150

Free Admission Days:
Collection Gallery and Gallery 4
Free on June 4, July 2, August 6, September 3, October 1, November 3, November 5, 2017
Organized by:
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

MOMAT Collection List



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 13,000 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

December 12, 2018 (Wed)

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