Past Exhibitions

  • February 18 - May 21 , 2017

MOMAT Collection

The collection exhibition from February 18 - May 21 , 2017

Kawai Gyokudo, Parting Spring, 1916, Important Cultural Property

  Welcome to the MOMAT Collection! We have once again reached that season when the Chidori-ga-fuchi cherry trees, located next to the Imperial Palace, are in beautiful bloom. On this occasion, we are showcasing a number of masterpieces depicting cherry blossoms, including Kawai Gyokudo’s Parting Spring, during the first half of the exhibition (Feb.18-April 16). During the second half (April 18-May 21), we will present a group of unmissable works such as Kayama Matazo’s Waves in Spring and Autumn.

  But there is much more. There is also an abundance of special exhibits on individual artists. For example, Room 4 (4th floor) is devoted to Yamamoto Kanae; Room 6 (3rd floor) to Foujita Tsuguharu; Room 7 to Hasegawa Kiyoshi and Hamaguchi Yozo; Room 9 Ueda Shoji. 

  Meanwhile, in Room 5 (4th Floor), we focus on Western modern art from the museum collection. Please set aside some time for these works, which are both an indispensable part of the collection and an important means of understanding the West’s influence on Japan.

   Finally, in Room 8 (3rd floor), we present a small exhibit related to The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl: Transmitting a Secret Art across Generations of the Raku Family, the exhibition currently on view on the first floor of the museum. As you view these works, you will no doubt detect a deep resonance between Raku-ware tea bowls and a number of postwar abstract paintings from the collection.

   Please enjoy a leisurely visit to the museum on this splendid spring day.


◆Works in the exhibition are subject to change.

The first: February 18 – April 16, 2017

The second: April 18 –  May 21, 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

■Kishida Ryusei, Road Cut Through a Hill , 1915

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

■Kawai Gyokudo, Parting Spring, 1916 (Exhibit Date: February 18 – April 16, 2017) 

■Uemura Shoen, Mother and Child, 1934 (Exhibit Date: April 18 –  May 21, 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

  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 start off with some vivid Nihon-ga (Japanese-style paintings) dealing with seasonal motifs such as Kawai Gyokudo’s Parting Spring (on display until April 16), depicting a spring scene of a ship mill moored on the banks of river, and Kayama Matazo’s Waves in Spring and Autumn (on display since April 18), containing two scenes, one of a mountain covered with cherry blossoms and one with autumn leaves among the billowing waves. The oil paintings on display include a number of important works by artists who adopted various techniques as part of a bold challenge to express themselves. These range from Kannon Bodhisattva Riding the Dragon, which has been entrusted to the museum by Gokoku-ji Temple, to works by the Taisho-era artists Nakamura Tsune and Sekine Shoji, and Yasui Sotaro and Umehara Ryuzaburo, whose works reflect the maturation of Japanese oil painting.


Yorozu Tetsugoro, Nude Beauty, 1912

Matsubayashi Keigetsu, Spring Evening, 1939

Room 2 Flowers of Life

Kikuchi Hobun, Fine Rain on Mt. Yoshino, 1914

  Spring is here. This is the season when things come back to life, and flowers that bore the cold all winter long bloom in a flood of warm sunshine. Kikuchi Hobun’s Fine Rain on Mt. Yoshino (on display until April 16) depicts cherry blossoms that have just burst into full bloom. Cherry blossoms are known for blooming all too briefly before they fall from the trees, but when they are at their peak, a mere gentle rain will not budge them from the branches.

  Be that as it may, the lifespan of flowers is short, and in Europe they have traditionally been a subject symbolizing the transitory nature of life and the ephemerality of beauty. Tokuoka Shinsen’s Camellias (on display from April 18) vividly represents the petals of camellias that are now in full bloom, but already show telltale signs of wilting around the edges. Yasui Sotaro’s portrayal of rose petals fallen on a table can surely be seen as a European-style the allegory. Tsuji Hisashi also renders a blanket of fallen flowers, like offerings to someone dear and departed.

  In the French “language of flowers ,” cherry blossoms signify a wish: “Remember me.” As you appreciate these paintings of flowers and the power of life that they embody, please enjoy pondering the various meanings the artists conveyed through them.

Room 3 Links between People: Starting with Kishida Rysuei

  Kishida Ryusei painted Bernard Leach. Interestingly, Kishida not only made a portrait of Leach, he also used one of Leach’s ceramic works as a motif. In turn, Yanagi Keisuke painted a picture of his friend the ceramic artist Tomimoto Kenkichi in a composition that bears a striking resembleresemblance to Kishida’s portrait of Leach. While studying in New York, Yanagi met Takamura Kotaro and Ogiwara Morie, and subsequently became associated with the so-called “Nakamuraya Salon.” For a time, Yanagi even had a studio on the premises that was designed and overseen by Ogiwara. But not long after it was completed, Ogiwara suddenly died without ever seeing Yanagi use the studio. Yanagi’s wife Yae (the former Hashimoto Yae) studied Japanese literature at what is now Japan Women’s University and later worked as an editor. She was also responsible for introducing Naganuma Chieko, another student at the university, to Takamura Kotaro, leading the two to get married soon after.

  Tamura Naoomi, whose portrait Kishida painted in his later years, was another interesting figure. Though he is best known as the author of Nihon no hanayome (The Japanese Bride), a book which was banned in 1893, Tamura was also a priest at Sukiyabashi Church, Kishida was baptized in 1906.

Yanagi Keisuke,Man in a White Shirt, 1914

Kishida Ryusei, Portrait of Bernard Leach, 1913

Ogiwara Morie, Woman, 1910

Room 4 Ueda? That Reminds Me of Yamamoto Kanae

Yamamoto Kanae, Bay in Brittany, 1913

  When people on the street were asked, “What do you think of when you hear ‘Ueda, Nagano Prefecture’?”, many of them answered, “Sanada Yukimura!” This shows how popular the NHK historical drama series Sanada Maru has become. In the art world, however, the city of Ueda is more closely associated with the artist Yamamoto Kanae.

  Yamamoto was born in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. Soon after graduating from Tokyo School of Fine Arts, he began publishing a magazine called Hosun with a group of friends that included Ishii Hakutei. (One of Ishii’s works is also on display in this room.) Later, Yamamoto studied printmaking for a few more years in Paris while creating his own work, and after returning to Japan, he founded the Japan Creative Prints Association.

  But even today Yamamoto’s name is not very well known. One reason for this is that he did not make any prints after the 1920s. Another reason is that on a stopover in Moscow on his way back to Japan, Yamamoto was deeply moved by peasant art and children’s pictures. This led him to enthusiastically advocate a “free drawing” movement, in which he argued that children should be allowed to draw whatever they liked rather than copying something. He also headed a movement to promote “peasant art” as a side business for farmers during the off-season. Yamamoto pursued these activities in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, where his father, a physician, ran a clinic.

Room 5 Is There an Absolute West?

Paul Cézanne, Large Bouquet of Flowers, c.1892-95

Paul Klee, Destroyed Village, 1920

  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, Fujita developed friendships with Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani, and searched for his own means of expressing himself. In the 1920s, Fujita 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 The Mezzotints (Manière-noir) of Hasegawa Kiyoshi and Hamaguchi Yozo

Hasegawa Kiyoshi, Still Life "Time", 1969

Hamaguchi Yozo, Blue Glass, 1957

  The copperplate printing method mezzotint literally means “medium tint” in Italian, and the equivalent French term is manière-noir. After covering the entire plate surface with countless fine points and lines, the resultant burrs are ground and sanded down. When the plate is filled with ink, it produces prints with a deep black ground and subtle tones, ranging from black to white. Though often used for illustrations in European books, the labor-intensive process eventually declined with the emergence of photolithography.

  In Japan, Hasegawa Kiyoshi and Hamaguchi Yozo revived this classical technique, opened up new possibilities in printmaking, and came to be highly regarded internationally. Hasegawa went to France in 1918 to learn mezzotint, and made use of its beautiful texture and vivid, velvety shadows. Meanwhile, Hamaguchi applied the technique freely, producing works with delicate and subtle tones, and began producing color mezzotints after the war.

  Both artists created tranquil copperplate prints, but while Hasegawa’s are based in inky black and rise to delicate, even sublime heights, Hamaguchi’s feature soft light gently illuminating dark spaces. We hope you will enjoy the fascinating contrasts between the work of these two masters.

Room 8 Infinite Universe: Beyond the Tea Bowl

Raku Kichizaemon XV, Black Raku Tea Bowl in Yakinuki Technique, Urai Owl, 1992, collection of Raku Museum *This is one of the exhibit works of the special exhibition “The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl” (1F), cat. no. 103

Shiraga Kazuo, Hemmei Sanro, a hero of a Chinese story, 1964

 This small exhibit is designed to accompany The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl: Transmitting a Secret Art across Generations of the Raku Family, an exhibition currently on view on the first floor of the museum. Please turn your attention to the “oppositional” relationships in this room. First, there is the opposition between the two tea bowls, which, as one was made by the founder of Raku -ware, Raku Chojiro, and the other by the current head of the family, Raku Kichizaemon XV, transcend both time and space. Next, there is the opposition between the tea bowls as pieces of matter with a tenacious presence and Takatani Shiro’s video, in which he minutely captures their surface. Finally, there is the opposition between the Raku tea bowls and the four paintings from the museum collection.

 All four of the pictures seem to be stamped with traces of the artist’s gestures. To make his work, Shiraga Kazuo spread the canvas out on the floor and painted with his feet. Shiraga was a member of the Kansai-based avant-garde group, the Gutai Art Association, which proclaimed that in their work “the human spirit and matter shake hands with each other while keeping their distance.” Matter was the material and human beings exerted their influence on it. The same kind of tense dialogue can be seen in the other paintings and the Raku tea bowls. Though all of them strongly stimulate our sense of touch, we are to experience the drama performed by human beings person and matter with our eyes.

Room 9 Ueda Shoji: Sand Dune Theatre

Ueda Shoji, Papa and Mama and Childrene, 1949

 Based in his hometown of Sakaiminato, Tottori Prefecture, Ueda was an internationally renowned photographer, whose style was rooted in modernism. Born in 1913, Ueda started taking pictures in junior high school. While running a photo studio, he made a wide range of works for some 70 years, from the 1930s to the 2000s.

 Here, we present a series of staged photographs, set on the beach near Ueda’s house and the Tottori Sand Dunes, which is synonymous with the artist. The series centers on the pictures taken between 1948 and 1950. Known as “Ueda-cho,” the artist’s style can be defined as a unique sense of composition and humor against a backdrop of the Sanin Region’s characteristically soft sunlight and expansive sand dunes.

 Not long after World War II, photorealism, rooted in social realism, began to flourish. It was at this time that Ueda’s free-wheeling artistic outlook, which seemed to express the joy that he felt at being able to resume his photographic practice at war’s end, created a vivid impression (“In Sanin, we have Ueda”) in the Japanese photography world.

Room 10 In a Corner of the World

Hasekawa Toshiyuki, Portrait of Kishida Kunio, 1930

Tsuchida Bakusen, Maiko in a Garden, 1924

  Room 10 usually features Nihon-ga (Japanese-style painting), but this time, in the area just ahead, we present works by Hasekawa Toshiyuki, a Western-style painter who drifted around the city while bartering his paintings for drink.

  In the area with glass cases, we exhibit works with women and girls as their main subject, primarily showcasing Kaburaki Kiyokata and the painters surrounding him. Ikeda Terukata and Ikeda Shoen (until April 16) were a husband and wife associated with Kaburaki, and Ito Shinsui, Yamakawa Shuho and Terashima Shimei were a group of “three musketeers” who studied under him.

  Although these artists are known for bijin-ga (paintings of beautiful women), from the late Taisho Era (1912-1926) onward, Kaburaki taught his followers not bijin-ga but genre painting, specifically depictions of the lives of ordinary people, which they also practiced among themselves. While praising the technical mastery of Tsuchida Bakusen (until April 16) and Kikuchi Keigetsu (from April 18 onward), who both depicted people, Kaburaki believed that art could be enriched by telling the small stories of people living in a little corner of the world. How did his students carry out his teachings? Please enjoy the results here, along with a variety of works from the same era.

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.

 Marcel Breuer’s Furniture: Improvement for good


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 In This Complicated World

Ishida Tetsuya, Untitled, c.1997

  Artists today use a wide range of materials and methods to visualize or attempt to understand worlds that cannot be apprehended with the eye.

  Sometimes an artist gives us the feeling that the world might seem complicated, but it is really simple, and that at the same time, this simplicity leads to a great deal of complexity. When something like this is expressed in painting, it can result in abstract works like those of Saito Yoshishige, Yamaguchi Takeo, and Morris Louis. There are also artists, like Ohtake Shinro, who place special importance on human sensitivity (such as being impressed by a peeling poster on the street), and incorporate multiple layers and mix things together in their work.

  As with the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident that occurred in its wake, the state of the world and our way of understanding of it can suddenly change drastically. In such cases, some artists deliberately attempt to confront the methodology that they used in the past. Two examples are Tanaka Koki, who assigns a few people a single task and documents the results, and Hirokawa Taishi, who collects everyday examples of creation and destruction in his photographs.

Collection Gallery, from the fourth to second floors
February 18, 2017 - May 21, 2017
10:00-17:00 (10:00 - 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)
MOMAT Collection and Gallery 4 open until 9:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays during the Spring Festival
*Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.
※Mondays ( except March 20, 27, April 3 and May 1),
and March 21
→See also Monthly Calendar
Adults ¥430 (220)
College and university students ¥130 (70)
*Including the admission fee for MOMAT Collection and Marcel Breuer's Furniture: Improvement for good.
*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 March 5, April 2, May 7, 18, 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 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

May 23, 2019 (Thu)

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