Phase — Mother Earth, a piece created by Mono-ha artist Nobuo Sekine in 1968, has been re-created:
Consisting of a hole dug into the ground, 2.7 metres deep and 2.2 metres in diameter, with the excavated earth compacted into a cylinder of exactly the same dimensions, Phase — Mother Earth was instrumental in the early development of work by the Mono-ha artist group, and has been considered a landmark work in Japanese postwar art history.More about Mono-ha inside. [more inside]
“A Dream To Have In Heaven” (Tengoku De Miru Yume - 天国でみる夢) is a non-narrative, surreal manga created by Maki Sasaki. It was published in the November 1967 issue of Garo, a now-defunct alternative and avant-garde monthly manga anthology magazine that peaked in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Viewing Japanese Prints is an encyclopedia of Floating World art (or ukiyo-e) and related genres. It has lots of images to go with the articles. Once you've gone through the site and familiarized yourself with pre-modern Japanese printmaking you might want to browse through the humongous image archive of Tokyo Metropolitan Library. Here are a few images that caught my eye: musicians attempt to keep a lady entertained, samurai pirate jumps into the water, crazed sea-captain wields very big axe, two samurais in combat, elfin man watches split-tailed cat dance while a giant feline stares angrily and giant toad belches up samurai while another samurai fights a gigantic fish and a third samurai observes the action from the banks of a river.
Pictures of 100 poems by 100 poets, explained by a Wet Nurse - Hokusai's pictures describe what the poems do in the head of a wet nurse. With high resolution scans.
Sushi art. Weird sushi art. Sushi ASCII art. Sushi soap. Sushi jewelry. Sushi candles. Wind-up sushi. And finally, sushi made of chocolate!
Paradise: The Gardens of Tokyo. A collection of amazing photographs of Japanese gardens as taken by Tim Porter. [more inside]
Howl's Moving Castle - in papercraft. Stop motion animation of the assembly here, flickr set of the finished product here, details on the kit here. Found via.
TOKYO International Great Quilt Festival 2008, a photo collection of beautiful Japanese art quilts. From Moonstitches via CRAFT.
Netsuke of the Meiji Period is an online exhibit from the Los Angeles County Museum, noted for the depth of its collection. (more). The György Ráth Museum and the Ferenc Hopp Museum also house a fine classic collection. (more). Today, netsuke carving is alive and well - see the Kiho Collection for one young master. If you would like to explore more sculpture for the hand, the International Netsuke Society has a good link list to many excellent contemporary netsuke artists.
"Pimp my rice paddy." Crop art for aliens, instead of by them.
Contemporary Japanese bamboo art.
Known as scholar's rocks or gongshi, viewing stones are rocks of complex shapes that suggest worlds within worlds, microcosms in stone. In Japan they are called Suiseki, from the Japanese characters for water "sui" and stone "seki", placed on a daiza, a carved wood base. They are at once a miniature landscape and a point of imaginative departure…
Painter and comic artist Jun-Pierre Shiozawa visited the Tokyo National Museum recently to view da Vinci's Annunciata which created protests in Italy when the Uffizi Gallery lent this artwork to Japan. Shiozawa then created a fantastic "manga review" of the experience for Tokyo Art Beat's TABlog. You can see the steps Shiozawa made to create his manga review on Shiozawa's Flickr account or blog.
Hisaharu Motoda’s “Neo-Ruins” series of lithographs depict the cityscape of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, where familiar streets lie deserted, the buildings are crumbling and weeds grow from the broken pavement. More here, here & here.
An illustrated edition of the Ise Monogatari (Wikipedia, review of translation). Yeah, yeah, it's in Japanese, but just keep hitting the forward button (the leftmost of the two on the right, red/brown rather than blue/green) and you'll find lots of pretty pictures. I can't improve on the descriptions by Matt of No-sword, where I found it, so I'll just quote him: "Behold our hero maxin' and relaxin' at his writing-desk, looking like he just got hired as a middle manager at his dad's lighter-flint concern! Thrill to the famous scene where he is visited by the Pineapple of Golden Week Past! Laugh as he is mistaken for a member of Aerosmith! Wonder why everyone is just sitting around smiling contentedly when the building is obviously on fire!"
The Nisshin Maru is on fire. After being rammed by the Greenpeace Ship Sunrise, chased and harassed by anti-whaling activist Captain Paul Watson, and playing set to contemporary artist Matthew Barney's film Drawing Restraint 9 (which co-starred Barney's wife Bjork), the Nisshin Maru, flagship of Japan's whaling fleet has been crippled by an onboard fire fueled by whale oil, spelling a possible end to whaling in Japan.
Japanese Medical Prints. Part of the Clendening History of Medicine Library, at the Kansas University Medical Center, and donated by Dr. Matthew Pickard. The digital collections at the Clendening Library also include Florence Nightingale's letters, old school Chinese public health posters, and images from old medical and natural history texts.
Japan's National Diet Library Gallery has been mentioned here before, but the Pink Tentacle blog came across some fantastic late Edo period illustrations in the NDL Gallery by Kurimoto Tanshu (栗本丹洲, 1756 - 1834). Apparently he was a doctor, but he seems to be better known for his hundreds of biological illustrations. Many are of sea creatures, but there are also quite a few other plants and animals. ranging from realistic renditions to bizarre creatures. A huge and varied collection, but all are equally fascinating.
Cal Henderson posted this link on superflat artist Chiho Aoshima this morning. With a little research, I found this excellent slideshow. And this, too. Then, I learned about superflat movement founder Takashi Murakami. And then I discovered this superflat commercial anime video.
Geiko of Kyoto is a stunning photo gallery of Kyotos's Geisha - both the mature Geiko and the apprentice Maiko. Melissa Chasse annotates many photos with fascinating details and offers an account of her tea party with Mamechika, a lovely Maiko. For more, this lovely Geisha site offers a brief history from the era of the floating world, more photos, Ukiyo-e art, and links. Also see y2karls' prior definitive post on ukiyo-e.
The Match World Virtual Museum is dedicated to showcasing the best artwork from the ~25,000 matchbooks in the collection of the Japanese Match Manufacturers Association, including Foreign Matchbooks, Advertising on Matchbooks and various matchbook companies, all with decent, sized images available if you click on the thumbnail versions. Some really attractive stuff in here. Previously on Metafilter
My earliest memory was when I was three. I had a fever and my mother was wiping a cold wet rag on my body. There were fish swimming in my room, as though I was underwater, but I could breathe just fine. That's why I was surprised to find this. "The contemporary art in Japan (english) is naturally influenced by the world contemporary art. But the power of the Japanese traditions, the oppressive presence of a dense urban environment and the various traumatism undergone by Japan for 60 years (defeat of 1945, Hiroshima, earthquakes, economic crisis, etc.) involve a production very rich, original and little known."
Howard French - Asia photos Photos from across Asia by Howard French, who works for the New York Times. Includes many photos of the 'Disappearing Shanghai' that is being obliterated by the city's relentless urbanization.
The tradition of making Japanese dolls, called ningyo—meaning human figure—goes back as far as 10,000 years to clay figures made during the Jomon period. The more recent rise in popularity, though, is most often traced to Hina Matsuri--Girls' Day, or the Doll Festival, celebrated on March 3--originating during the Edo period. These antique ningyo are highly sought after by collectors, such as the American expert Alan Pate, who has written a number of articles on the subject. The modern Japanese doll culture, however, is anything but traditional. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the ningyo tradition was exported to make toys for the West (previously featured on MeFi), and has culminated in popular Barbie-type dolls such as Superdollfie and others. Contemporary artists have transformed the Japanese doll tradition into something else entirely: Simon Yotsuya, Ryo Yoshida, Koitsukihime, Yoko Ueno, Mario A., Etsuko Miura, and Kai Akemi. A number of these artists were featured in the Dolls of Innocence exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Of course, notable artists outside Japan have worked with dolls before, including Hans Bellmer, who inspired much of the artwork in Innocence, the follow-up to Ghost in the Shell. Explore more:     . [Several links are nsfw.]
Animation... More clips available at his homepage.
The Site of Reversible Destiny is an "experience park" conceived on the theme of encountering the unexpected. By guiding visitors through various unexpected experiences as they walk through its component areas, the Site offers them opportunities to rethink their physical and spiritual orientation to the world. [via]
In the Twilight of Modernity and the Silent Film (.pdf) Irie Takako was the most popular actress in 1930s Japan: film scholar Tanaka Masasumi locates the turning point of Japanese modernity in 1933, the year Kenji Mizoguchi's The Water Magician was made, arguing that Irie's transformation from radiant embodiment of moga(modern girl, the Japanese version of the flapper)-hood to suffering beauty in a kimono (.pdf) epitomized modernism's (modanizumu) defeat by nationalism in 1930's Japan. (via Camera Obscura; more inside)
And suddenly, in my memory, everything turns real: the summer breeze of Izu, the lazy sun of an early afternoon, the stale smell of water standing in the rice fields. For a moment it is that day in 1956, 37 years ago, and I am standing there, 33 years old myself. See—just to the left of the camera, just out of range. Here comes Mifune running, and there stands my younger ghost, right of that pillar, just off screen... And the summer sun beats down and the fresh breeze of Izu bathes my face, and then the story continues and the film ends and the lights go up and the students open their notebooks and I stand up and began talking about the influence of the Noh. Donald Richie (previous post), the worldwide authority on Japanese film, shares his movie memories.
Animals in Japanese Paintings and Prints Organized into three online essays - traditional - realist - and imaginative art. Among the menagerie: monkey - tiger - eagle - camels - praying mantis - fox and puppy.
Outside staircases. Doors. Stacks of stuff. People sleeping outside. And more. Mainly in Yokohama. Photographs by Tom Gally.
The Emperor's Bunker. "The Japanese, with sadness and irony, stressed that Hirohito couldn't even speak properly. This was partly to do with the fact that he didn't have to speak - people spoke in his name and he was isolated from real life". "The Sun", the third part in Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov's 'Men of Power' tetralogy after the gloom of Moloch (1999), about Hitler and Eva Braun, and the despairing tones of "Taurus" (2001), focused on the wheelchair-bound Lenin in his death throes, "The Sun" seems almost upbeat. This, after all, is a film about reconciliation. More inside.
PingMag is the name of a new art and design-focused online magazine from Japan. They have many interesting articles on art and design in Japan including an interview with ELM Design (on their work for Yamaha), Monolake talking about their network music projects, Eto Koichiro talking about some of his art/programming projects, a profile of Japanese production house Little More, and a lot more in both English and 日本語。
The Art of Fuko Ueda From bighorn sheep to pet turtles to musical instruments, these paintings depict a bizarre and beautiful world filled with strange creatures.
Meiji architecture The Meiji Mura is an open-air museum with many examples of Japanese Meiji-period architecture from between the mid 19th century and the early decades of the 20th. The buildings, often rescued from the threat of demolition, show how Japan developed its own distinctive modern architectural style during this period.
Rock, Paper, Scissors: 11 year-old twins close 12 million dollar deal.
A Japanese artist retells the creation myth with sand trickling through his hands. Amazing. (wmv, 19MB)
The Japanese Gallery of Psychiatric Art. Images from Japanese psychiatric medication advertisements: 1956-2003 (via Absent without leave)
A Tale of Two Chinas, by photographer James Whitlow Delano. Whole swaths of cities have vanished, to be transformed with developments that have quickly made them look more like Houston, Qatar, or Singapore than the ancient China of our mind's eye. The old hutong, or alleyways, of Beijing that once formed a mosaic of passageways and the siheyuan, or walled courtyard houses, have been largely razed. The old brick rowhouses of Shanghai, are now being leveled and replaced by modern high-rises. Traditional marketplaces, residential neighborhoods, streets where medicine shops or bookstores bunched together, are now either gone or have been rouged up as tourist destinations, part of a new synthetic, virtual version of China's incredible past. The energy fueling this transformation bespeaks a powerful but often blind, unquestioning faith in an inchoate idea of progress that takes one's breath away, often literally. (Unrestrained growth has left China with the dubious honor of having 9 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world). Delano's new book is "Empire: Impressions from China". More inside.
"For my part I don't need Japanese pictures here, for I am always telling myself that here I am in Japan"
I envy the Japanese for the enormous clarity that pervades their work. It is never dull and never seems to have been made in haste. Their work is as simple as breathing and they draw a figure with a few well chosen lines with the same ease, as effortless as buttoning up one's waistcoat..... --Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, 24 September, 1888 The term "Japonisme" came up in France in the seventies of the 19th century to describe the craze for Japanese culture and art. Van Gogh, like so many other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists, was one of the admirers (and collectors) of Japanese art. He defined himself as “a simple worshipper of the eternal Buddha”, and the most peculiar among his many self-portraits is "Self-Portrait as Buddhist Monk" (see a comparison here and here), painted in 1888 and dedicated to Paul Gauguin. More inside.
Memories of a Dog. Moriyama Daido's pictures are taken in the streets of Japan's major cities. Made with a small, hand-held camera, they reveal the speed with which they were snapped. Often the frame is tilted vertiginously, the grain pronounced, and the contrast emphasized. Among his city images are those shot in underlit bars, strip clubs, on the streets or in alleyways, with the movement of the subject creating a blurred suggestion of a form (warning: NSFW images if you scroll down the page) rather than a distinct figure. His best known picture, Stray Dog, (1971) is taken on the run, in the midst of bustling street activity. It is an essential reflection of Moriyama's presence as an alert outsider in his own culture. Moriyama is also a toy-camera enthusiast (his favorite is the Polga) . He has worked in the US, too: "N.Y. 71". (more inside)
Kodomo no kuni - children's book illustrations and songs from 1920s Japan. I found the artist's index the best way to navigate. (via the always entertaining quiddity)
AN AMAZING JAPANESE ANIMATION based on the psychologically complicated and beautifully playful work of comic book artist Jim Woodring. (Monday morning cartoons for you, complete with a nod to the Jetsons, courtesy the Japan Media Arts Festival. Other featured work here.)
Syashin Mania is a collection of photos of pop culture Japan. In this case it is fan car art of Ayumi Hamasaki, a popular singer. (Some other pages on the site are NSFW.)
Black ships and samurai In 1853 four ships under Commodore Perry anchored off the coast of Japan against the wishes of the Japanese. According to historian John Dower, "This initial encounter between the United States and Japan was eye-opening for all concerned, involving a dramatic confrontation between peoples of different racial, cultural, and historical backgrounds. We can literally see this encounter of "East" and "West" unfold through the splendid, yet little known, artwork produced by each side at the time." This beautiful exhibition includes many examples of this artwork, juxtaposing scenes of the encounter from Japanese and American artists' points of view. (Part of MIT's open courseware initiative.)
Shibori is an amazing Japanese textile dying technique--a very sophisticated form of tie-dye, where nubby, lumpy, bizarre things like this are transformed after dying into this fish or these flowers (scroll for detail) or these starbursts. Specifically this odd thing became this (detail). You can find excellent photos and descriptions of the process here, here(scroll down and hold mouse over photo), and here. There is also information at the World Shibori Network . This photo shows partially dyed fabric and here is a video of the preparation for dying. Shibori is very labor intensive (carpal tunnel syndrome-city) and was a one time subject to a sumptuary tax and one form was outlawed by an emperor for being too extravagant. There are many different knots and ties for different patterns--browse here, here(gallery1-7), and here. Shibori can be used to make some striking and detailed images. Diverse examples of shibori --iris, layered squares, waves, kimonos, large bridge banner, subtle black and white winter scene, , a nifty “aerial view” of earth as a tidal pool with hot air balloons (detail of anemones). Don't miss the stunning work of Hiroko Harada (English/Japanese). I especially like Rain In the Forest, There Are Ripples On the Cloth, Seasonal Changes, and this large installation. You can browse more here, but the Japanese page has more.