June 30(Wed) - August 29(Sun) 2010


Outline of the Exhibit

The 2010 Permanent Collection Summer Exhibition features 40 works such as “Flee to Safety” from photojournalist SAWADA Kyoichi, original design works of monsters done by NARITA Tohl, works produced on themes of gods and Buddhist deities by MUNAKATA Shiko, and works from KUDO Tetsumi, an artist from Goshogawara City who paved a new path in Post-War Japanese Art.
This summer’s exhibition also features the illustrated works of UEDA Shin from Yomogita Village in Aomori Prefecture, for their relatedness to the concurrent temporary exhibit, “ROBOTS and ARTS: Visual Images in 20th Century Japan”

UEDA Shin
UEDA Shin
SAWADA Kyoichi
SAWADA Kyoichi

Exhibit Details

MUNAKATA Shiko Room | Dynamic Gods and Buddhas

MUNAKATA Shiko (1903-1975) was a print artist from Aomori city. In 1955, at the Third São Paulo Biennale, and also at the Twenty-eight Venice Biennale in the following year of 1956, his work “The Ten Great Disciples of Buddha” won the grand prize in the print division. He immediately became the world-famous “MUNAKATA” with his works loved and highly celebrated by people across the world. In Japan, MUNAKATA received the prestigious award, the Order of Culture in 1970, and continued to be active as a representative print maker of Japan until 1975, when he passed away at the age of 72.
MUNAKATA Shiko created many works of gods and Buddhist deities full of dynamic motion, as can be seen in “The Sutra of Kannon, Compassionate Goddess of Mercy”, a woodblock print depicting the ever-changing manifestations of the goddess Kannon, and in the print “In Praise of the Four Cardinal Points” which depicts gods dancing about with limbs raised, as well as in “Three Women Rising, Three Women Sinking” which illustrates female figures that appear in Buddhist scripture. Using techniques of black and white contrast as well as using his own unique technique of creating a photographic negative-like image by carving white lines onto a black base, MUNAKATA created these images on his characteristically large prints, imbuing them with all the more power.
MUNAKATA had a particular affinity for religion, drawing gods and other Buddhist deities in a free manner without confinement of form. In his magnum opus, “Two Boddhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Shakyamuni”, each of the Buddha’s disciples are depicted in various poses rich in expression, embodying solemn and yet at the same time, human-like qualities. Besides woodblock prints, MUNAKATA also used his free-flowing and fluid brush strokes to create Yamato-e, or Japanese style paintings. We hope you will enjoy these dynamically expressed works of Buddhist deities by MUNAKATA Shiko on display.


Exhibition Space P,Q| UEDA Shin’s World of Illustration - From Military and Character Illustrations to Picture Books

UEDA Shin was born in Yomogita Village of Aomori Prefecture in 1949. His father was a teacher, and with him his family moved all around the prefecture every few years. UEDA moved to Tokyo after graduating from junior high school. He became the last apprentice to one of the foremost illustrators of Post-war Japan, KOMATSUZAKI Shigeru, living with him while he studied under him. He then joined the Model Guns Corporation working in their advertising department before leaving two years later to become and independent illustrator, to which he still continues to do today, primarily illustrating works with military themes.
In 1969, UEDA illustrated his first model box cover art for Tamiya, Inc.’s popular 1/100 scale “Mini-Jet Series.” He went on to do packaging illustration work for many different model makers. Also an avid collector of military paraphernalia, UEDA is known as a military aficionado. He has established a reputation for his intricate illustration of weapons and battle scenes. Of these, his “Combat Bible: The Fully Illustrated US Army Instructional Manual” published by Nihon Shuppansha, was a resounding hit and a translated version was also published in Taiwan. UEDA continues to do illustration work for magazines and product packaging. Here on display you can see collections of the myriads of UEDA’s works produced with a wide variety of techniques across many different genres, military, manga, anime, historical, and science fantasy, as seen from the E-Monogatari (Picture Stories) works he continued to produce following in the footsteps of his teacher KOMATSUZAKI Shigeru, to his ultra-precise airbrushed works, colorful illustrations for children, and manga works. We hope that by featuring UEDA’s wide variety of work, that this will be an opportunity to introduce the appeal unique to the original works that cannot be felt in their printed counterparts.


Exhibition Space M | SAWADA Kyoichi:Flee to Safety

On September 6, 1965, American Marine Forces were engaged in a mopping-up operation in a village along a river in northern Qui Nhon, Vietnam. Under attack from Viet Cong snipers, American Forces moved to bomb the village from the air using napalm, and at this time a group of local villagers called to evacuate to safety jumped into the river. SAWADA Kyoichi, a photographer standing on the opposite bank of the river did not fail to capture this image of a mother and children swimming for their lives with nothing else but the clothes they had on their backs. This one photograph, titled “Flee to Safety” was featured in numerous newspapers, including the Washington Post, and earned SAWADA the 9th World Press Photo Exhibition Grand Prize of that year, as well as the most prestigious award in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize in the following year. This photograph was taken within 2 months of SAWADA starting his work of documenting the war in Vietnam.
SAWADA was born in 1936 in the Teramachi (presently Honcho) neighborhood of Aomori City. After graduating from Aomori Prefectural Aomori High School, he worked at a photography store on Misawa Air Base while studying photography. In 1961, SAWADA set out for Tokyo to become a professional photographer. Half a year later, SAWADA jumped headfirst into working as a war photographer after he entered the United Press International’s Tokyo Branch Photography Department with an introduction from a military official he had befriended while he was at Misawa Air Base.
After “Flee to Safety”, SAWADA continued to produce photographic masterpieces in rapid succession, earning him the first and second prizes in the 10th World Press Photo Exhibition for “Dusty Death” (1966) and “Carrying the Enemy” (1966). In March of 1970, SAWADA began to the document the situation in Cambodia following the breakout of a coup d'état which plunged country into confusion and chaos. In October of the same year, SAWADA serving as the United Press International Phnom Penh Branch Office Head, went out to report on conditions near Phnom Penh when he was shot dead en route by a group thought to be the Khmer Rouge. He was 34 years old.
SAWADA Kyoichi, at only 5 years into his career as a photojournalist, risked his life to capture the cruel reality of war. His photographs have received high appraisal around the world for their most eloquent account of the truth of the Vietnam War.


Exhibition Space L,J,K,I,H | KUDO Tetsumi:The Soul of the Avant-Garde Artist, retrospective 20 years after his death

It has been 20 years since the passing of KUDO Tetsumi (1935-1990), an artist who shortly after the war, through art activities known as “Anti-art”, gave birth to a new movement in late 20th Century Art. Even in Aomori Prefecture, not much is known about the large impression KUDO Tetsumi made on in Japanese art. We hope that this exhibit, now twenty years after his passing, will serve as an opportunity to re-examine and KUDO Tetsumi’s work in a new light.
KUDO Tetsumi was born as a son to the painter KUDO Masayoshi in Goshogawara city in Aomori Prefecture, and began his study at Tokyo University of the Arts in 1954, at a time when Western culture surged violently into Japan, making it a transition point for various values. In the arts, this was also the time when European and American art movements that broke apart pre-established concepts, were first introduced in Japan.
Produced with premade objects such as scrubbing brushes and other discarded junk articles, KUDO’s work was exhibited in the Yomiuri Independent Exhibition in 1960, when the art critic TOHNO Yoshiaki labeled it, “Junkyard Anti-art”, starting an “Anti-art” craze. Not much time had passed since the war, but KUDO’s work had ignited the pent-up desire of the youth in society at the time to express themselves, producing a fierily passionate period in the postwar art scene.
In 1962, KUDO moved to Paris, spending over 20 years provoking the closed-up societies of Europe with his shocking style of expression in works which have been highly regarded both in Japan and abroad, before returning to Japan in 1987 to become a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts.
In the 1960s, KUDO produced a series titled, “Your Portrait”, in which he sharply criticized European society, which had been “disabled” and brought down to its knees by clinging to its past glory. Starting in the 1970s, KUDO began to tackle a new theme, the problem of environmental pollution. He exposed the “disabled” state of Europe, not able to overcome its own problems, while at the same time acknowledging that the mechanical civilization they had created was a source of their own oppression.
From the late 1970s, KUDO began work on a portrait of a person with hands raised before the eyes as if in supplication, playing cat’s cradle. The figure, should in fact be indentified as KUDO himself, who when he became conscious of his own mortality, pointed the sharp blade he had used on others at himself, becoming self-reflective and meditative.
KUDO who had for nearly 20 years provoked European society, began to confront his own mortality, asking himself “where do I come from and where am I going?” while his thoughts went to his roots in his homeland of Tsugaru (Aomori), including its climate, culture, and characteristics, as well as the prehistoric Jomon Culture that had once thrived in Aomori. He started to keep a studio in Hirosaki city in 1983, and made frequent trips between Paris and Aomori.
In 1986, KUDO produced a work entitled “The Soul of the Avant-Garde Artist”, in which he included a human scull, evoking images of death. In fact, by this time KUDO was already afflicted with laryngeal cancer, including the next year when he became a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts, just shortly before his passing in 1990.
The path that KUDO, the “Flag-bearer of Anti-art”carved in his 30 years of work, was an expression of his life, and was his life itself.


Exhibition Space G | TERAYAMA Shuji :FOTOTECA IMAGINARIA From the Hiroko Govars Collection

TERAYAMA Shuji (1935-1983) was a multitalented artist who worked primarily in literary forms such as haiku, Japanese prose, poetry, and essay, and also many other colorful fields such as film and theater.
TERAYAMA Shuji decided to take up photography in 1973, becoming a student to the photographer ARAKI Nobuyoshi, after having worked on numerous photography and motion picture collaborative works with photographers MORIYAMA Daido, TACHIKI Yoshihiro, and SHINOYAMA Kishin. TERAYAMA produced many photographic works in between performances of his plays, however TERAYAMA’s photographs were not a reproduction of reality or a snippet of truth from the everyday, but were weighted on constructing a world of unreality. His photographic works were compiled in a collection entitled, “Persons of the Inugami Family” in 1975, which was featured in the French photography magazine ZOOM, creating quite a response.
TERAYAMA had also become interested in old postcards when we encountered some for sale at a shop that sold old foreign antiques. TERAYAMA developed his photographs on postcard paper, allowed their color to a fade, silkscreened dirty specs to achieve the appearance of wear, included enigmatic written messages, applied elaborate postal stamps he had collected from around the world, and stamped the postcards with custom-made meter stamps, all making for very meticulously crafted fake postcards.
This seasons’ exhibition displays the many imaginative and fantastic photographs that TERAYAMA produced. Each of these works are part of the collection of Hiroko Govars, who for many years served as the producer for TERAYAMA Shuji’s Franco-Japanese collaborative films, and coordinator for his performances abroad. This precious collection of his works were included in the “TERAYAMA Shuji: FOTOTECA IMAGINARIA–Persons of the Inugami Family” exhibit which was produces by Hiroko Govars and toured all over Europe from 1976 to 1978.


Exhibition Space O|NARITA Tohl:The original design of Monsters

NARITA Tohl (1929-2002) initially started off as a sculptor, and after working on the motion picture, Godzilla (1954), he became involved in constructing miniatures for the Tokusatsu genre of Japanese films.
Introduced here are design works of various monsters which decorated the television programs of the Ultra Series, including the Ultra Q (1965), Ultra Man (1966), and Ultra Seven Movies (1967). These designs are timeless and continue to shine 40 years after the original broadcast, and reflect NARITA’s artistic sense as a sculptor and quality as an artist.
Please enjoy these numerous monsters that have been adored by Japanese people of all ages.


Exhibition Space F | Installations by Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara from Hirosaki city, Aomori learned art at colleges in Tokyo and Nagoya after graduating from Hirosaki Senior High School and went on to release paintings, solid works, and drawings with great energy.
The Aomori Prefectural Museum has kept a collection of his work since 1997 and since then managed to get over 150 of his pieces.
You can mainly see two of his installations, “Hula Hula Garden” and “New SoulHouse.”

Yoshitomo Nara (1959 -)
He was born in Hirosaki city, Aomori in 1959. He graduated from Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music and learned at Kunstakademie Dusseldorf, founded in Germany from 1988 until 1993. He appealed to our minds in the modern society through his paintings and solid works of children with characteristic eyes and dogs filled with sorrow. He is now highly esteemed not only in Japan but also in foreign countries.


Exhibition Space N | Artifacts from the Sannai-Maruyama site

The Sannai-Maruyama site is a Jomon period site where continuous occupation took place for a long period of time (about 5500 ~ 4000 years ago).
From excavations carried out since 1992, remains of pit-dwellings, long houses, graves for adults and children, mounds of debris, remains of pillar-supported structures, storage pits, clay mining pits, refuse disposal pits and roads have been found revealing the characteristics of the settlement and the natural environment of the period.
In addition, a huge amount of Jomon pottery, stone implements, clay figurines, clay and stone ornaments, wooden objects such as digging sticks, woven bags and fabrics, and lacquered and bone items have been unearthed as well. Jade and obsidian were brought in from other areas.
Remains of cultivated edibles such as gourds, burdocks and beans have been excavated, and traces of chestnut cultivation have been revealed by DNA analysis, all helping to change the image of the Jomon culture.
The site was designated a Special National Historical Site in November 2000.
The inspiration for the architectural design of the Aomori Museum of Art comes from the excavation area of the nearby Sannai Maruyama Historical Site. The ground under the museum was cut in a geometric style to resemble the trenches of the excavation area.


ALEKO Hall | Marc Chagall (1887-1985)


[ Backdrop of the ballet Aleko for Act 1; Aleko and Zemphira by Moonlight ]

1942 / Tempera on cotton fabric / 887.8×1472.5cm

These backdrops to the ballet, Aleko were created by Marc Chagall upon request by the New York ballet company, the Ballet Theatre, while Chagall was in the United States as a refugee fleeing Nazi persecution.
Aleko is a ballet about a young noble man named Aleko and his tragic love with a gypsy girl named Zemphira. The ballet is based on the epic poem, The Gypsies written by Aleksandr Pushkin. Discontent with civilized society, Aleko joins a band of gypsies and falls in love with Zemphira, the daughter of their leader. However, as the story progresses, the fickle Zemphira falls in love with another young gypsy man. Upon discovering this, Aleko is maddened by jealousy and sets out to end the life of Zemphira’s new lover, ultimately causing Aleko to be banished from the gypsies.
The backdrop for the first act of the ballet depicts the free wandering lifestyle of the gypsies on the vast plains. At night, the full moon shines brightly while the lake waters reflect that light. The tents of the nomadic gypsies speckle and dot the land. On the right, the two characters caught in the eddies of love, Aleko and Zemphira cuddle in an embrace in the sky. Chagall conveys the connection of love between the two by illustrating them in the same outline and dimension.
In front of this backdrop, the lovers Aleko and Zemphira display a passionate dance to represent their new found happiness. However, at the end of the act, a young fortune teller girl prophesizes that one of the young gypsy men is destined to be killed by someone around him, leaving a wake of uneasiness on the stage.

[ Backdrop of the ballet Aleko for Act 2; The Carnival ]

1942 / Tempera on cotton fabric / 883.5×1452cm

This, the second backdrop depicts the merry lifestyle of the gypsies as they wander from village to village performing in the streets. The festive feel to this scene is represented by the bear holding the violin on the right. The personification of animals by playing musical instruments is a reoccurring theme in Chagall’s work. Why the artist has chosen to illustrate a bear here is probably due to the fact that Pushkin mentions that a band of gypsies domesticated a bear in the original work. On the left side, houses of the Russian countryside are painted in a curve, creating the effect of enclosing a broad spacious plain inside the square of the backdrop.
From the expanding rouge sky, the verdant green leaves with violet flowers blooming in its center, to the softly freely floating blue clouds, each individual motif is effectively brought out on the white background as if in a song of brilliant color.

[ Backdrop of Aleko for Act 4; A Fantasy of St Petersburg ]

1942 / Tempera on cotton fabric / 891.5×1472.5cm

This is the backdrop for the fourth and final act of the ballet. Burning with jealousy at the loss of Zemphira, Aleko is driven to madness. Here we see the cityscape of St. Petersburg dyed scarlet. The silhouette of the Bronze Horseman, a monument in St. Petersburg stands out in the pitch dark of night. A white horse towing a cart makes a dash through the night sky for a chandelier suspended in the sky. In the lower left, a cemetery, church, and crucifix are depicted, alluding to a tragic conclusion.
On the stage, surrounding the nightmare haunted Aleko, bizarre apparitions appear and disappear. The deranged Aleko spots the loving couple, Zemphira and the young gypsy man together, and carried away by his anger, Aleko stabs Zemphira’s new lover to death. Having lost her lover and her reason to live, Zemphira throws herself onto Aleko’s blade and joins her lover in death.
Some interpret the use of motives of the cityscape of St. Petersburg as well as the Bronze Horseman as hints of the writer of the original work, Pushkin, and that it was Chagall’s way of paying homage to the literary giant Pushkin, who shared the same Russian homelands as Chagall.
The September 1942 first performance of Aleko in Mexico was a great success, and it is said that 19 encore performances were delivered.



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