Past Exhibitions

  • June 5 – September 24, 2018

MOMAT Collection

The collection exhibition from June 5 – September 24, 2018

Koga Harue, Sea, 1929

 Welcome to the MOMAT Collection! In this exhibition, we introduce currents in Japanese modern and contemporary art from the beginning of the 20th century to the present along with a variety of works from other countries.

 In the Highlights section (Room 1, 4th floor), viewers are treated to a host of masterpieces selected from the museum collection. Rooms 2 to 12, arranged in roughly chronological order, have each been assigned a theme, enabling viewers to see the relationship between art and society in each era from a wide range of perspectives. In addition, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Period (1868-1912), a special exhibit called “Art of the Late Meiji Period” is being presented in Room 10 (3rd floor), which is normally devoted to Nihonga (Japanese-style painting). Along with Wada Sanzo’s South Wind, newly designated as an Important Cultural Property this fiscal year, you will find some works from the early Bunten (Ministry of Education Art Exhibition) and others that presage the individualistic artistic expressions that emerged in the Taisho Period (1912-1926). On the second floor, please keep an eye out for a new acquisition by the important postwar American sculptor David Smith. In Gallery 4 (also on the second floor), you will find a small exhibit focusing on the art critic and poet Takiguchi Shuzo. We hope that you will enjoy this edition of the MOMAT Collection, which includes as a wide and varied assortment of works.


translated by Christopher Stephens




MOMAT Collection List

Important Cultural Properties on display

The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Collection (main building) contains 15 items that have been designated by the Japanese government as Important Cultural Properties. These include nine Nihon-ga (Japanese-style) paintings, five 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:


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

■Shinkai Taketaro,Bathing, 1907

■Wada Sanzo, South Wind , 1907 

■Yorozu Tetsugoro, Nude Beauty , 1912

■Tsuchida Bakusen, Serving Girl in a Spa, 1918 (Exhibit Date: July 31 – September 24)

■Nakamura Tsune, Portrait of Vasilii Yaroshenko, 1920

◆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

AI-MITSU, Landscape with an Eye, 1938

 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.

 This year marks the 150th anniversary of start of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). To commemorate this historical landmark, we present Kaburaki Kiyokata’s Monthly Manners and Customs of the Meiji Period during the first part of the exhibition (June 5-July 29). As you examine the details of the work, please imagine how people of the era lived. In the second part of the exhibition (July 31-September 24), we present Kawabata Ryushi’s Flaming Grass and Kobayashi Kokei’s Indian Corn Plants in keeping with the season. Although all of the motifs are summer plants, the depictions are resplendent with unique characteristics.

 In the yo-ga (Western-style paintings by Japanese artists) exhibit, we present a number of important works from the Meiji to the early Showa Period (1926-1989), including Harada Naojiro’s Kannon Bodhisattva Riding the Dragon and Nakamura Tsune’s Portrait of Vasilii Yaroshenko. Koga Harue’s Sea contains a scattering of suitably seasonal images as well as a refined composition.

Room 2 The Melancholy of the Countryside

Tsuchida Bakusen, Serving Girl in a Spa, 1918 (Exhibit Date: July 31 - September 24)

 This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Period, but what kind of year was 1918, which occurred exactly 100 years ago? Although 1918 was a year of important historical landmarks, such as the end of the First World War, we are going to focus on a relatively minor event. Sato Haruo’s novel The Melancholy of the Countryside was also published that year.

 The book meticulously depicts the mental workings of the protagonist, who, having grown weary of city life, moves to a secluded house in the suburbs surrounded by greenery. After reading the story and looking at art of the period, you realize that there is no shortage of works that deal with people lingering in plant-filled spaces and suburban scenes. For example, there is a splendid resonance between Murayama Kaita’s Roses and a Girl and the original title of Sato’s novel, The Sick Rose. The Taisho Period (1912-1926) is often seen as an era that placed a strong emphasis on individuality and the self, but there were also plenty of self-aware individuals who were tormented by social friction. Perhaps these plant-encircled areas were envisioned by artists of the era as a kind of Utopia to help them recover from exhaustion.

Room 3 A Friendship Formed in Paris

Saeki Yuzo, Gas Lamp and Advertisements, 1927

  Following the First World War, there was a dramatic increase in the number of Japanese painters who went to study in Paris. After pursuing a variety of styles based on their individual interests, they returned to Japan with their newfound knowledge. In 1926, five of these artists, Maeta Kanji, Satomi Katsuzo, Saeki Yuzo, Kojima Zentaro, and Kinoshita Takanori, formed the 1930 Society. Their main motivations were to continue the friendships they had formed in Paris and to show the work they had created while living there. Other artists whom they had associated with in France also joined the group on their return to Japan, expanding the membership. Since their bonds were based on friendship, the artists’ styles were highly varied, as suggested by the works on display in this room. But the most important thing they learned in Paris was not style, it was the artistic approach of giving top priority to a subjective vision. Exaggerating things that they viewed as real based on a personal sensibility lay at the root of this new Realism. The fact that each artist’s style was so disparate enhanced the overall allure of the group as a collection of individuals. This also attracted younger artists who were searching for new forms of expression.


Room 4 Koizumi Kishio, Works from One Hundred Scenes from the Tokyo Metropolis in the Showa Period

Koizumi Kishio, River Festival at Ryogoku (No.66 of "One Hundred Scenes from Tokyo Metropolis in the Showa Period"), 1936
(Exhibit Date: June 5 - July 29)

Koizumi Kishio, Sekiguchi, Otaki (No.15 of "One Hundred Scenes from Tokyo Metropolis in the Showa Period"), 1931
(Exhibit Date: July 31 - September 24)

 Born in Shizuoka, Koizumi Kishio moved to Tokyo in 1909 and studied at the Japan Institute of Watercolor Painting, which was overseen by Oshita Tojiro. After became acquainted with Tobari Kogan and Oda Kazuma at the school, Koizumi began making prints. Between the late Meiji and the early Taisho era, prints became established as an art form rather than merely a reproductive technique for practical applications. As a print artist, Koizumi followed in the footsteps of the Creative Print movement, which was based on the idea that an artist would make his or her own picture, carve the plate, and print the work without relying on an artisan.

 One of Koizumi’s most prominent works, One Hundred Scenes from the Tokyo Metropolis in the Showa Period (published in pieces from 1929 to 1937) is an outstanding print series depicting the restoration and modernization of Tokyo in the wake of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. Unsatisfied with the final product, Koizumi later revised some of the prints, creating a total of 105 works, 57 of which are contained in the museum collection. The works are distinguished by simple and concise compositions, and bright and vivid colors that make the most of the watercolor paint. In addition to sights that had been famous since the ukiyoe era, the prints depict scenes of Tokyo, which are striking for the urbanization, industrialization, and commercialization brought about by post-earthquake restoration, and the daily lives of people in the city. The works approach these beautiful, geometrical urban forms and modern manners and customs with a detached perspective.

Room 5 Animals and the War Era

AI-MITSU, Lion,1936

 When a society heads into war, people are not the only ones who get caught in the middle. During the Pacific War, animals were mobilized to transport goods and slaughtered in the fear that they would escape in the chaos caused by air raids. This might remind some viewers of the poor elephants depicted in Tsuchiya Yukio’s picture book Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War.

 Most war-record paintings depict soldiers on the front lines or their families on the home front, but many other artists dealt with the theme of animals during this period. For example, images of fierce horses and eagles preparing to take flight were probably intended to increase the fighting spirit. Maple seedpods often appear in Kitawaki Noboru’s work as a metaphor for airplanes or jet fighters. Ai-Mitsu’s small, scrunched up lion seems to suggest people who were unavoidably engulfed in the tumult of the era.

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 Restless Bodies

Hamada Chimei, Crowd of the Blind, 1960
(Exhibit Date: June 5 - July 29)

Hamada Chimei, Elegy of Raw Recruits: Sentinel, 1951
(Exhibit Date: July 31 - September 24)

 At a time when the aftereffects of the Pacific War were still very pronounced, a variety of artists made works depicting introspective and depressed people as a way of quietly expressing their opposition to the turbulent social conditions.

 Kazuki Yasuo was interned in Siberia after the war. After being sent home, he adopted a completely different artistic style, focusing on people who had suffered at the hands of society. These works might also be seen as self-portraits of a grief-stricken artist who fell victim to harsh circumstances.

 Aso Saburo and Suguro Tadashi’s works portray people who are being crushed by things in a small space. While both Oyamada Jiro and Nakano Jun make use of dining tables, the artists fill the canvas with vivid brushstrokes, depicting dark scenes that are far removed from the pleasure of eating and enjoying each other’s company. The gloomy expressions and fragmented lifeless bodies reflect the atmosphere in a society faced with the reality that life is interchangeable.

Room 7 2018-50=1968

Kamoi Rei, Stand Still Time, 1968

Nakanishi Natsuyuki, Compact Object: Sinking Scissors, 1968

 This room consists entirely of works made in 1968. Today, the year is associated with the “season of politics,” but needless to say, not everything was political at the time. For example, one thing that attracted a great deal of interest was UFOs. So much so that a hearing on the subject (commonly known as the UFO Symposium) was held in the U.S. House of Representatives. UFOs appeared in manga of the period too. This was also the year of the so-called Anpo Protests (the student movement reached a fever pitch around the same time), designed to block the automatic extension of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1970. Under the circumstances, any artist who evoked America in their work might seem to have been supporting the protests, but this was apparently not always the case. 

Room 8 The 1970s: There Are Only Women in This Room

Katsura Yuki (Yukiko), Work, 1978-79

 As it turns out, there is only a single female artist in the preceding seven rooms. This demonstrates the distorted nature of the museum collection. With this in mind, we decided to, at the very least, devote this room entirely to women (through September 24). In Japan and elsewhere, the ’70s were a period in which women’s activities became clearly visible (or began to receive proper recognition). This was partly due to social factors. For example, in 1975 the United Nations designated the following ten years as the International Women’s Year and called on every country and organization to set establish goals and act accordingly. This led the Japanese government to formulate to a plan of action in 1977.

Room 9 - 1 Yamamura Gasho, Plants (Exhibit Date: June 5 - July 29)

Yamamura Gasho, From "Plants", 1974-75

 In this exhibit, we feature Yamamura Gasho’s Plants. The series, made up of monochrome works in which Yamamura trained his lens on scenes of thick vegetation, such as bushes, trees, and flowers, embodies a unique artistic vision markedly different from standard nature or landscape photography. In keeping with the artist’s stated intention of capturing “the various ecologies of plants dwelling in the darkness” (as Yamamura commented in the April 1976 issue of Camera Mainichi), the vegetation in his photographs exudes a strange quality, accentuated by his use of strobes in daylight and high-contrast printing.

 Yamamura’s early work, The Children Living in Washington Heights (1959-62), which earned him a great deal of acclaim while still in university, focuses on the strange world of children living in U.S. Army housing in the middle of Tokyo. As this series suggests, the artist has shown a consistent interest in unknown realms and extraordinary entities living alongside familiar scenes. Plants depicts the strange appearance of vegetation that is at once familiar but is also often viewed with indifference as something alien. This important series unifies Yamamura’s, an artist whose talent flowered early, artistic direction and photographic technique. 

Room 9 - 2 Hosoe Eikoh, Ordeal by Roses (Exhibit Date: July 31 - September 24)

Hosoe Eikoh, Ordeal by Roses No.32, 1961

 These 11 works are from Ordeal by Roses, an early work by Hosoe Eikoh in which he explored fundamental themes of human existence such as life, death, and eros using the motifs of the novelist Mishima Yukio’s body and his idiosyncratic aesthetic sensibility.

 Impressed by Hosoe’s pictures of the butoh dancer Hijikata Tatsumi (published in a photo book called Man and Woman), Mishima selected the photographer to take a portrait that was used to adorn a collection of the writer’s criticism. In the garden of Mishima’s house, where the shoot took place, Hosoe employed drastic staging such as wrapping a rubber water hose around Mishima’s naked torso. Deeply satisfied with these brilliant and highly finished works, Mishima agreed to Hosoe’s request for an additional shoot. Taken over a period of about two years, the resulting works were published in the 1963 photo book Ordeal by Roses.

 Hosoe’s genius lay in his ability to identify the perverted impulses to suffer and self-destruct that were concealed within Mishima, who proudly displayed his physical beauty, and to use a variety of settings to illuminate these qualities. This aim was embodied by the beautiful but thrown-encrusted rose motif. The title Ordeal by Roses was devised by Mishima, the key player in this bizarre artistic world.

Room 10 Special Exhibit: Art in the Late Meiji Period

Wada Sanzo, South Wind, 1907, Important Cultural Property

 The museum primarily deals with art after the Bunten, an annual Ministry of Education-sponsored exhibition that was launched in 1907. This year, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Period, we feature a number of works from the collection that date from that era.

 In a surge of Westernization, Japan underwent a sudden modernization, which also had a strong effect on the art world. As part of the influx of Western-style painting, artists searched for new types of expression as seen in Wada Sanzo’s South Wind, which depicts figures with dynamic and characteristically unJapanese physiques. At the same time, in Nihonga, the traditional form of Japanese-style painting, artists blurred contours to create a three-dimensional effect and developed other experimental methods in their search for originality.

 In addition to Nihonga and Western-style painting, in this special exhibit, we focus on the rich world of art that emerged in the late Meiji Period with sculptures and outstanding watercolor paintings, such as Oshita Tojiro’s Foot of Mt. Hotaka (on view until July 29) and Yoshida Hiroshi’s Crescent (on view from July 31). We also present paintings such as Yorozu Tetsugoro’s Nude Beauty to illustrate the links to the subsequent Taisho Period, in which works that emphasized the artist’s individuality came to the fore.

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.

Takiguchi Shuzo and the Artists Who Captivated Him
Primarily from the Museum Collection


Room 11 Are Faces Really Necessary?

Kato Izumi, Untitled, 2016

 As suggested by the development of facial recognition systems, faces are often seen as a way of differentiating between one person and another. Or, as is vividly expressed by a phrase like “It’s written all over your face,” faces are believed to convey a person’s inner state through an expression or change in color. Due especially to this function, artists have used a variety of methods to incorporate faces into their work. In some cases, they have created compositions that call attention to the face or made works with only a detached face (or head). While some have made a concentrated effort to deal with the shape of the face by giving it an impassive expression, others have attempted to convey the idea that a person’s inner workings can be expressed without depicting the face. In this group of works, most of which were made since the 1990s, we examine how artists deal with facial expressions.

Room 12 Welcome, Mr. Smith

David Smith, Circle IV, 1962
©The Estate of David Smith
Photo courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth

 Last year the museum acquired Circle IV (1962) by David Smith, a prominent postwar sculptor. To commemorate this, we present a collection of paintings and sculptures that are designed to deepen your understanding of the work. These include a work that attempts to fuse painting and sculpture, a work that uses an abstract expression to depict the human body, a work that focuses on the labor required to make sculpture, and a more straightforward work based on a circle motif. The fact that a single work can summon up such a wide variety of expressions shows that even though they might seem indifferent, art works are imbued with any number of concepts.

Collection Gallery, from the fourth to second floors
June 5 – September 24, 2018

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 Gordon Matta-Clark: Mutation in Space (June 19 – September 17)
*Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.
※Closed on Mondays (except July 16, September 17 and 24), July 17 and September 18 →See also Monthly Calender
Adults ¥500 (400)
College and university students ¥250 (200)
*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.
Evening Discount (From 17:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)
Adults ¥300
College and university students ¥150
*Admission free for college and university students from 17:00 on Fridays and Saturdays between June 19 and September 17.
Free Admission Days:
Collection Gallery and Gallery 4
Free on the first Sunday of each month (July 1, August 5 and September 2).
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

December 12, 2019 (Thu)

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