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Taikan Yokoyama 150th anniversary exhibition


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  • The 150th Anniversary of his Birth: Yokoyama Taikan

    13 April – 27 May 2018
    The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo


    A great retrospective of Taikan

    Taikan Yokoyama* (1868-1958) is one of the major artists who contributed to the evolution of “nihonga”, the Japanese painting style developed during the Meiji period.

    The present exhibition will be a great retrospective of the artist, organized in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of his birth and the 60th anniversary of his demise.

    *Yokoyama is the family name in this pseudonym. He is often referred to as Taikan.

    Taikan Yokoyama, Mt. Fuji Dyed Ultramarine, right side, c.1917, Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art
    On display from 13 April to 6 May

    Taikan Yokoyama

    Taikan joined the Tokyo School of Fine Arts as one of the first students in 1889. He learned painting under the guidance of its director and philosopher Kakuzo Okakura (Tenshin Okakura). Since then, Taikan studied and experimented with age-old techniques and styles.

    He brought innovation in particular by using soft, sfumato-style brush strokes, thereby breaking away from the traditional emphasis on lines and contours. This style is called the “moro-tai” or vague style, which, at the beginning, was meant to be a mockery of him made by traditionalists.

    Taikan travelled to India, Europe and the United States, where he held exhibitions, receiving high acclaim. He eventually established himself as a major figure representing modern Japanese-style painting.

    Taikan’s works, including a great number of sumie (monochrome ink paintings) and paintings of Mount Fuji, attest his deep spirituality and poetic sensibility.

    A portrait of Taikan Yokoyama, c. 1933
    Courtesy: Yokoyama Taikan Memorian Hall


    Highlights of the exhibition

    The present exhibition will trace the career of this influential artist through his works and related materials.

    Among 90 works by Taikan on display is his “Metempsychosis” (“生々流転” seisei ruten), a painting scroll over 40 meters in length, the longest existing in the country. Also translated as “the Wheel of Life”, this spectacular sumie work depicts the life-cycle of water from sea to sky to earth, an allusion to the Buddhist notion of the never-ending cycle of rebirth.
    Taikan Yokoyama, Metempsychosis (detail), 1923, The National Museum of Art, Tokyo
    Important Cultural Property
    Taikan Yokoyama, Metempsychosis (detail), 1923, The National Museum of Art, Tokyo
    Important Cultural Property


    Taikan’s gorgeous “Cherry Blossoms at Night” and “Autumn Leaves” will also be exhibited.

    Taikan Yokoyama, Cherry Blossoms at Night, left side, 1929, Okura Museum of Art
    On display from 8 to 27 May

    Taikan Yokoyama, Autumn Leaves, left side, 1931, Adachi Museum of Art
    On display from 8 to 27 May

    Taikan Yokoyama, Kannon in White, 1908

    Taikan Yokoyama, Autumn Mountainside, 1912, The Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto

    Taikan Yokoyama, A Day in the Pacific Ocean, 1952, The National Museum of Art, Tokyo

* The above is the information known at the time of publication and subject to change without prior notice.

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