|■Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation Science
|■Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage
From the front page of the website for the Buddhist paintings in the Heian period (national treasures)
Transformed Buddha of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been jointly conducting research with the Tokyo National Museum on the Buddhist paintings in the Museum’s collection. Releasing the outcomes of the research, four Buddhist paintings belonging to the Heian period were published on their joint website (tnm-tobunken.tobunken.go.jp) on August 20th, 2019. They are pictures of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, Ākāshagarbha Bodhisattva, Sahasrabhuja Avalokitesvara, and Mahamayuri vidyaraja, which are designated National Treasures.
Although the paintings seem flat, layers of pigment are intricately deposited on the paper or silk cloth. You form an impression of the picture as a light complex is seen when daylight is reflected on or penetrates the layers. Traces of the painting process and what happened to the painting after its completion can be seen underneath.
Key clues to capture them are the information on the piled-up layers, as well as the data on materials such as the size and shape of the pigment particles, the texture of the silk cloth, and the thicknesses of its warp and weft. An optical survey is one of the effective methods to look beneath the surface without touching or collecting an analysis sample from the painting. The Institute was the first in Asia to start the optical survey for arts and crafts soon after its foundation as The Institute of Art Research in 1930. This joint research is also based on the accumulated know-how of that survey.
To make a fine depiction in a picture of the world of Buddha transcending this world, delicate patterns were drawn on the garment and ornaments of the Buddha during the Heian period. However, to protect these painting, few opportunities are given to appreciate them and confirm through close observation. This publication on the joint website enables visualizing high-definition images on a PC or a tablet computer. Photographs have now been taken under visible light providing an expanded and detailed view. Further details of the paintings will be provided by including their pictures taken by infrared, fluorescence, or X-ray photography, apart from the results of fluorescent X‐ray analysis, to distinguish the elements contained in the pigments. Looking forward to your anticipation for their forthcoming release.
In July 2013, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties signed a memorandum of agreement on a five-year joint project with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) located in Norwich in the County of Norfolk, UK and worked on the project of “Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art” while sending researchers of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems to give lectures on Japanese art at the SISJAC every year. In the project of “Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art”, SISJAC has collected and entered data related to the study of Japanese arts written in English to be added to the database of our institute. By the middle of June 2018, 4675 items including 2584 titles of articles on Japanese cultural properties, 1631 titles of art exhibitions and movie festivals held overseas, and 460 titles of books on Japanese cultural properties published overseas had been sent and gathered into the database of our institute to enable cross-searches.
To continue these projects, Dr. Simon Kaner, General Director of SISJAC and Yamanashi, Deputy Director General of the institute signed the renewed memorandum of agreement on the joint project on July 13th at the SISJAC. Continuation of the joint project would help to enrich the database and enhance research exchange.
Mr. Nobuo KAMEI, Director General of our Institute since April 2010 passed away on July 17th, 2018, of gastric cancer. He devoted himself to the growth and advancement of the Institute until his very last moment. Mr. KAMEI graduated from the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tokyo and completed the doctoral course in the Department of Urban Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering of the same university in March 1973. He joined the Architecture Division, Cultural Properties Protection Department of the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan as a Technical Official in April of that year. He moved to the Nara National Cultural Properties Research Institute (current Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) in 1975, then to the Board of Education of Nara City in 1984 and became President of the National Institute of Technology, Miyakonojo College in 2003. In 2005 he returned to the Agency for Cultural Affairs and served as Councillor of the Cultural Properties Department until he assumed the post of Managing Director of the Japanese Association for Conservation of Architectural Monuments, an incorporated foundation in 2008. During his service at the Agency for Cultural Affairs, he made a great contribution to the enhancement of the program for the registration of cultural properties and also played an instrumental role in the selection, repair and landscaping of the “Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings.” In addition, Mr. KAMEI launched the “Hometown Forest for Cultural Properties” program designed to ensure that Japanese cypress bark and other resources required for the maintenance and repair of traditional buildings will be available for years to come. When the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake struck on January 17th, 1995, he demonstrated his leadership in the restoration of affected cultural properties as chief investigator.
Between April 2010 and March 2013 he was Director of the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage and concomitantly Director General of our Institute, the latter of which he continued to hold after he stepped down from the former organization. In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred less than a year from his arrival at our Institute, he took Chairman of the Committee for Salvaging Cultural Properties Affected by the 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku and Related Disasters that was set up by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Mr. KAMEI successfully led the rescue operation that involved 6,800 people in total from around the country and lasted for two years.
Outside the Institute, he served as the chair of the Subdivision on Cultural Properties of the Council for Cultural Affairs since 2017. In that capacity he took the initiative in proposing recommendations concerning the “Preservation and Utilization of Cultural Properties for Assured Inheritance in the New Era.” His contribution to the protection and inheritance of cultural properties encompassed not only architecture, his own specialization, but also all other cultural properties.
All of us at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties are deeply saddened by the loss of Mr. KAMEI, especially at a time when the national policy on the preservation of cultural properties is entering a new dimension following the March 2018 revision of the Act on the Protection of Cultural Properties. We renew our commitment to carrying on Mr. KAMEI’s last wishes of duly passing on our precious cultural properties to future generations.
On February 9th, 2016, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo concluded an agreement with the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, USA concerning promotion of the collaborative investigation in Japanese art. The Getty Research Institute was founded with the inheritance of entrepreneur Paul Getty in 1984 and has been engaged in the research and international exchange in the field of art, especially fine art. The Agreement, lasting five years, concerns exchanging researchers of Japanese art between both institutes, translating/publishing literature on art history written in Japanese/English, and making the digital information on Japanese art available on the Getty Research Portal.
At the signing ceremony, Dr. Thomas GAEHTGENS, Director of the Getty Research Institute addressed that the Getty Research Institute recognizes this as an important agreement and hopes that projects beneficial for both Institutes will be developed. In response, KAMEI Nobuo, Director General of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo spoke that exchanging information on art materials held in Japan and overseas evaluation of Japanese art is quite significant in view of transmission of Japanese culture. We hope this to be further developed in the future. After the signing ceremony, a staff-level meeting was held by the personnel who were in charge of this project in each Institute.
Based on the agreement concluded this time, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo will promote its efforts in study exchange between both Institutes, translation of Japanese art research literature that can contribute to study of the Japanese art history in English-speaking countries, and international standardization of research information that is now available on the web.
A scene from the Study Meeting
On January 13th, the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems held a study meeting titled “Art Historian, Yukio YASHIRO: between the West and the East” to discuss from various perspectives the roles and achievements in the field of Western art history and Japanese/oriental art history of Yukio YASHIRO who played a key role in establishment of the Institute of Art Research (the predecessor of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo). Art historian Shuji TAKASHINA was invited as a commentator. The study meeting consisted of the following programs: “Viewpoints towards the Western and Eastern art that linked Bernard Berenson to Yukio Yashiro” (Emiko YAMANASHI, Dept. of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems of the Institute), “Sandro Botticelli seen through Oriental Eyes―Yashiro’s 1295 monograph” (Jonathan NELSON, the Harvard University Research Center for Italian Renaissance Studies), “Rereading Yukio Yashiro’s The Annunciation” (Michiaki KOSHIKAWA, Tokyo University of the Arts), “The Emaki (Illustrated Handscroll) Studies by Yukio Yashiro” (Dr.Akira TAKAGISHI, the University of Tokyo) and “Yukio Yashiro and the Chinese Art Studies during 1930 to 1945” (Maromitsu TSUKAMOTO, the University of Tokyo).
Dr. Nelson indicated that Yashiro had introduced a new method called “style analysis” by use of partial photos of a work into the Western art history through his book “Sandro Botticelli” and the method had come from the plates used in the Japanese art magazines in Meiji Period and their making process. Dr.KOSHIKAWA showed that The Annunciation written by Yashiro as a Western art historian after his return to Japan was a pioneering research in Japan concerning iconography in the Western Christian art, and also that he directly inherited Walter Pater’s aestheticism in this literary work. Dr.TAKAGISHI clarified Yashiro’s position as an Emaki researcher who had taken a great interest as a Japanese art historian in how the unique picture style of Emaki was positioned in the world’s art. Dr.TSUKAMOTO explained the current situation in which different historical perspectives of Chinese art had been established in the West, in Japan, and in China. He further remarked Yashiro’s visit to the International Exhibition of Chinese Art held in London in 1935-1936, which influenced Yashiro’s achievement in establishing the new historical perspective of Chinese art that had mediated the Chinese art boom in the West and the study of Karamono (Chinese articles) in Japan. The presentations were followed by discussion, where participants re-acknowledged the meaning of achievements of Yashiro who actively worked internationally, both in the East and in the West.
Under the circumstance where globalization is becoming an issue in various areas, researchers in art history are also putting more effort into “World Art History” or “Global Art History.” Against this backdrop, the International Symposium: “Histories of Japanese Art and Their Global Contexts – New Directions” was organized by the Institute of East Asian Art History, Heidelberg University at its Karl Jaspers Centre from October 22 through 24, 2015. This symposium was held in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the “Ishibashi Foundation Visiting Professorship in Japanese Art History,” which supports the dispatch of visiting professors in Japanese art history from Japan to Heidelberg University. The symposium was composed of seven panels: I. “‘Making Worlds’ – Imagining Japan,” II. “Global Entanglements of East-Asian Export Artifacts,” III. “Artistic Interactions between Japan and China in the early Twentieth Century,” IV. “Japanese Art and Public Discourses,” V. “Collecting Japan and China in EuroAmerica and the Formation of a “World Art History,” VI. “Contemporaneity in Postwar Art,” and VII. “Japan in International Exhibitions.”
Twenty-two researchers presented their research outcomes, and discussions were held in each panel. Keynote speeches were given by Dr. Christine Guth (Royal College of Art and V&A Museum, London) and Dr. Timon Screech (SOAS, London). Emiko Yamanashi was invited from this Institute to make a presentation under the title of “The art historian, collector and dealer Hayashi Tadamasa – negotiating the concepts of “Fine arts” in Europe and “bijutsu” in Japan” in Panel V prior to “The Origin of Species and the Beginning of World Art History: Kunstwissenschaft’s Encounter with Darwinian Aesthetics around 1900” (Dr. Ingeborg Reichle: Humboldt University, Berlin) and “Collecting East-Asian Art in Imperial Germany and the Predicament of World Art History” (Dr. Doris Croissant: Heidelberg University).
The three-day presentations and discussions revealed that Japanese artifacts and Japanese art history have also been discussed differently in various regions in and after the Age of Exploration, when people, goods, knowledge and information started to move significantly. The report of the symposium will be published in 2017.
Art historian Aki Ueno, who had worked for the Tokyo National Research Institute of Cultural Properties, the predecessor to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, from November 1942 to April 1984, passed away on Oct. 12, 2014. Ms. Ueno specialized in the Art of Western regions such as Kizil Caves and Mogao Caves. In addition, she was awarded the Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy in 1960 for her joint research on the mural painting of the five-storey pagoda at Daigo-ji Temple with Osamu Takata, Takuji Ito, Taka Yanagisawa and Tsugio Miya, becoming the first woman to receive the award along with Yanagisawa. Her bereaved family will donate Ueno’s research notes, related materials and part of her book stock to the institute so that they can be utilized for future research. They are a valuable collection of materials that show the traces of research on the history of the Art of Western regions and other issues. After organizing them, we plan to make them available to the public.
Yashiro and Berenson-Art History between Japan and Italy
Art historian Yukio Yashiro (1890-1975), who served as the director general of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, went to Europe in 1921 and studied under Renaissance art researcher Bernard Berenson (1865-1959) in Florence, Italy, from the autumn of that year. Yashiro learned his teacher’s method of stylistic comparison, and published “Sandro Botticelli” in 1925, a bulky English work on Botticelli that made Yashiro internationally recognized. After returning to Japan in 1925, he participated in the foundation of the “Institute of Art Research,” the predecessor to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. Based on the Institute of Art Research, he made efforts to compile the history of Oriental art using Berenson’s methodology. After World War II, he was involved in the opening of the Museum Yamato Bunkakan from the preparatory stage and served as the first director general of the museum. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, has been conducting research on the correspondence between Yashiro and Berenson. On June 30, we started a Web exhibition on the extant correspondence titled “Yashiro and Berenson-Art History between Japan and Italy,” presenting the republications of all 114 letters between Berenson and Yashiro and related documents in cooperation with the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, which is housed in the former villa of Berenson, and Michiaki Koshikawa, professor at Tokyo University of the Arts. (See http://yashiro.itatti.harvard.edu/) You can enjoy various materials showing the exchanges between the two art historians in the Web exhibition comprising the following chapters: letters, a list of people appearing in the letters, “Sandro Botticelli,” English versions of Yashiro’s literary works including an English translation of “My Life in Fine Arts” (from Chapter 7 to 10) published in 1972, studies on Yashiro, Berenson’s literary works on Oriental art and a gallery including Yashiro’s water-color paintings and sketches. Yashiro and the letters shed light not only on the individual activities of Berenson and Yashiro and their master-discipline relationship, but also on the international circumstances surrounding research on Renaissance art and Oriental art from the 1920s to 1950s.
During the lecture
To welcome Dr. Stanley Abe (professor, Duke University, USA), an expert in Chinese art history, as a visiting researcher to the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems, the lecture by Dr. ABE was organized under the title of Imagining Chinese Sculpture from 2:00 to 5:30 PM on June 5 (Wed.) in a basement meeting room at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo.
Dr. ABE’s lecture focused on the fact that the Western concept of “sculpture” did not exist in China until the 19th century. Instead, emphasis was placed on the text that accompanied three-dimensional objects. Tracing the history of this text, Dr. Abe noted that it was valued in different ways and was intended as a gift or treated as an art object. Since the dawn of the modern age, that text gained new value as a work of art when it was collected by Westerners and Japanese who visited China.
After the lecture, a discussion took place with comments by Dr. TANAKA Shuji (associate professor, Graduate School of Education, Faculty of Education and Welfare Science, Oita University) and OKADA Ken (Head of the Institute’s Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques). The discussion revealed that China and Japan attached different value to three-dimensional objects prior to encountering the Western European concept of “sculpture,” and the social status of the individuals who produced those items also differed. In China, the term “sculpture” strongly connotes an object produced after the dawn of the modern age.
The discussion brought up topics such as variations not only in the acceptance of Western culture, but also in the modern shaping of the plastic arts, and the historical and economic contexts that led to those variations. The lecture had 48 attendees and was a success.
Field in Grez by KURODA Seiki
The Institute of Art Research opened in 1930 with an endowment bequeathed by Western-style painter KURODA Seiki and later became the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. To inherit Kuroda’s will, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has placed stress on the study of Japanese modern art. Field in Grez (canvas, oil, 29.2×51.4 cm) by KURODA Seiki was donated to the Kuroda Memorial Hall upon the condition that it be exhibited there. On May 6, TANAKA Atsushi, SHIOYA Jun, SHIRONO Seiji, and YAMANASHI Emiko of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems studied and photographed the work. The work depicts a rural landscape with 2 piles of straw in a vast grass field and a red flower in grass in the foreground. The signature,“S.K.”, is at the bottom right. The year the work was painted is not written, but the imagery and style indicates the work was done in Grez-sur-Loing while KURODA was studying in France. It is thought to date to around 1890, when KURODA sought to have his work entered in the Salon. The piles of straw evoke an association with Jean-François Millet, whom KURODA admired. The work has been passed down by the family of NOMURA Yasushi (1842–1909), who served as ambassador to France from 1891 to 1893 and supported KURODA’s painting in France. The work sheds light on NOMURA’s friendship with the painter. Plans are to publish the study’s results and exhibit the work in the Kuroda Memorial Hall.
Maki KANEKO, Assistant Professor in the Art History Department at the University of Kansas, who came to research and study as a visiting researcher in the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems for one year last July, gave her results presentation at the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems’s research conference on June 28, coinciding with her visit coming to an end. Ms. KANEKO has been investigating how the Asia-Pacific War and the postwar period were expressed in the work of artists, and as a very interesting problem to emerge from that investigation, she has focused on the change in the evaluations surrounding Kiyoshi YAMASHITA (1922–71), who is known for his simple collages. She presented a topic titled “The Expression of a ‘National Artist’: ‘The Kiyoshi YAMASHITA Boom’ during the Asia-Pacific War and the Postwar Period.”
Kiyoshi YAMASHITA has been spoken of as a ‘National Artist’ that can create imagery that induces a sense of innocence and idyllic nostalgia since the second time he was noticed during the postwar period in the mid-1950s. In contrast, when he first gained prominence for two years between 1938 and 1940, from around one year after the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, he was portrayed as the ‘Japanese Van Gogh,’ who exemplified a magnificent creative faculty even while having a mental disability.
Ms. KANEKO pointed out the possibility that these portrayals of Kiyoshi YAMASHITA reflected the state of the societies during each period, in that during the latter half of the 1930s a system of total war was constructed for the war, while the memories of war were brought back in various ways during the 1950s, when it was said, “it’s still not the postwar period.”
It was a very interesting experiment that tried to analyze society from how visual representations were received, extending outside of the narrow framework of “art.” Ms. KANEKO returned to her home upon finishing her research here at the end of June.
In 2010, the Institute concluded a memorandum of understanding on cooperative research and exchanges with the Guimet Museum in France. During his visit to Japan, Hubert Guimet, a director of the Museum and great-grandson of Émile Guimet, gave a lecture at the Institute on April 5th entitled “Émile Guimet: From manufacturer of artificial ultramarine to founder of the Guimet Museum.” From the 19th to the early 20th century, Émile Guimet visited Egypt and crossed the Indian Ocean to visit various countries, including Japan. The Guimet Museum is an art museum that curates and exhibits cultural properties related to Oriental religions that Émile Guimet collected from around the world. The Museum curates a number of Buddhist artworks from Japan and is one of the foremost Oriental art museums in France.
Émile Guimet’s father, Jean-Baptiste Guimet (1795–1871), invented a method of manufacturing artificial ultramarine in 1826. Ultramarine is a blue pigment made by pulverizing lapis lazuli collected from places like Afghanistan. In Europe at the time, ultramarine could not be obtained unless it was imported and it was so expensive that it was bought and sold at prices on par with gold. The method that Guimet invented led to the instant spread of artificial ultramarine that had been scientifically manufactured. In 1855, Guimet and Henry Merle founded the Compagnie des Produits Chimiques d’Alais et de la Camargue, forerunner of the Pechiney conglomerate. In the 1850s, the firm’s volume of production rose 100-fold from when the company was originally founded. The finances for Émile Guimet’s travels and art collecting stem from the firm’s success.
Naturally, painters used artificial ultramarine to produce paintings, and the pigment can be found in works by neoclassical masters such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.
Hubert Guimet’s lecture revealed part of the Guimet family history that outsiders were unfamiliar with. The lecture also noted substantial changes in terms of materials in the history of 19th century European painting. With an audience of close to 90, the lecture proved a success.
Carrying damaged works out of the Rikuzentakata Municipal Museum
Cleaning the backside of canvas
The Great East Japan Earthquake that hit Japan on March 11th of this year resulted in a tsunami that caused extensive water damage to the entire collection of the Rikuzentakata Municipal Museum in Iwate Prefecture. The Museum exhibited and stored cultural artifacts and natural science specimens. It also stored oil paintings, calligraphy works, and block prints done by local artists. After the disaster, these artworks were transported from the site to facilities under prefectural control in the City of Morioka by curators dispatched by museums belonging to the Japanese Council of Art Museums. Emergency measures were then taken to rescue these works.
At the site of the Rikuzentakata Municipal Museum, most of the surrounding buildings had been washed away, and only part of the damaged frame of the museum remained. On July 12th and 13th, curators surveyed and packed the works in the collection under a hot sun and then transported them to facilities under prefectural control in the City of Morioka. Many of the works were quite large (sizes 200-500) and some works were severely damaged by mold since the air temperature had risen after the works were exposed to seawater, so the works had to be fumigated prior to emergency efforts. Works were fumigated from August 9th to 16th and emergency efforts began on August 21st. Close to 700 curators and conservation specialists from Hokkaido to Kyushu came from the Japanese Council of Art Museums to participate in the efforts. They worked non-stop to clean paintings and plaques and mold-proof works so that they would be able to survive interim storage in museum repositories. In total, 156 works were fully treated and delivered to the Iwate Museum of Art repository on September 29th. Plans are for the City of Rikuzentakata to deposit these works with the Iwate Museum of Art in the future. Rescue efforts were undertaken by the Japanese Council of Art Museums, the Iwate Prefectural Board of Education, the City of Rikuzentakata’s Board of Education, the Iwate Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Art. Efforts were supported and coordinated by the Cultural Property Rescue Program Committee (of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo).
Works survived this massive disaster and were cared for by numerous individuals so that they can be protected and handed down to future generations. Fervent hopes are that these works will not lie dormant in museum repositories but that they will have the opportunity to entertain the public.
To commemorate the achievements of Kuroda Seiki and to contribute to the development of regional culture, we have jointly held the Kuroda Seiki: Master Western-style Painter of Modern Japan Exhibition with the host museum every year since 1977. This year, the exhibition was held at the Iwate Museum of Art from July 17th (Saturday) to August 29th (Sunday). 147 oil paintings and drawings including designated the Important Cultural Properties “Lakeside” and “Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment”, a sketch block, and letters were exhibited. The “Boat”, “Peony”, “Attacking the battery on the Er Long Shan hill during the Sino-Japanese War” and two “Portraits of Hayashi Masafumi” donated last year were also displayed. Paintings of Kuroda Seiki can be tracked from his early to later years.
The Iwate Prefecture is the birth place of Yorozu Tetsugoro and Matsumoto Shunsuke, whom studied under Kuroda Seiki at the Tokyo Fine Arts School, then learned the new Western artistic activities, and set a new tone in the world of Japanese modern paintings. The Iwate Museum of Art introduces the paintings of these artists in the regular exhibition room, so this exhibition gave us a good opportunity to track the flow of Japanese modern paintings along with the Kuroda Seiki exhibition. The exhibition had 11,942 visitors and ended successfully.
Director Suzuki presenting a letter of gratitude to Ms. Kawashima Yoshiko.
The Muramatsu Gallery was a place where artists leading Japanese contemporary art had exhibited their works since 1960. This gallery closed in December 2009, and so Ms. Kawashima Yoshiko, a representative of the gallery, donated materials, such as an album which included documentary photos of its exhibitions, to our Institute. The Muramatsu Gallery opened around 1942 as a gallery of the Muramatsu clock shop which opened in Ginza in 1913, and was transferred to Ms. Kawashima in 1968. The materials acquired through the gallery’s 40 years of activities since 1968 are very precious, supplementing the materials of contemporary artists that we have collected, arranged and exhibited since before the war. Our Director gave her a certificate of gratitude on March 12. We will store the donated materials for ever, and make use of them and exhibit them.
As part of the Ueno no Yama Bunka Zone Festival, we provided a special opening period before and after the Culture Day (November 3), and opened the Kuroda Memorial Hall every day from 9:30 to 17:00, differing from its usual opening of twice a week. This year we specially opened the Hall for six days from November 3 (Tuesday) to 8 (Sunday), and had 1,895 visitors. The Kuroda Memorial Hall, built in accordance with the last wishes of oil painter Kuroda Seiki, was completed in 1928. It is an important building as a western style art gallery created by architect Okada Shinichiro and has permanent exhibitions of a significant collection of Kuroda Seiki’s paintings, including important cultural properties Lakeside and Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment. The Hall is usually open from 13:00 to 16:00 on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Kuroda Seiki Exhibition held at the Shimane Prefectural Iwami Art Museum from July 18 (Saturday) to August 31 (Monday) attracted some 15,177 visitors. The daily average number of visitors was a record since the opening commemorative exhibition of the Iwami Art Museum. More than 80 percent of the visitors answered exit questionnaires conducted by the museum on August 1. Many visitors came from the prefectures near Shimane – approximately 30% from Hiroshima, 10% from Yamaguchi – and all respondents said they were satisfied with the exhibition. A variety of devices were used to advertise this exhibition such as distributing tissue pouches with painting of “Lakeside”, reproducing and giving the first 30 visitors each day a reproduction of the paper fan with Uchiwa painted in “Lakeside”. We carried out the following related events, which attracted many participants: a lecture on August 1 by Ms. Yamanashi Emiko of our Institute’s Department of Research Programming titled “Modernization or Japanese paintings and Kuroda Seiki”, a workshop producing drawings and paintings in watercolors using a model wearing similar Kimono to that in “Lakeside” on August 8, and a lecture titled “Kuroda Seiki and Mori Ogai” on August 29 by the head curator of the Iwami Art Museum, Ms. Kawanishi Yuri. Next year, the Kuroda Seiki Exhibition will be held at the Iwate Museum of Art.
The site of Kuroda Seiki Exhibition held at the Shimane Prefectural Iwami Art Museum
To commemorate the achievements of Kuroda Seiki and contribute to the development of regional culture, we have jointly held the Kuroda Seiki: Master Western-style Painter of Modern Japan exhibition with the host museum every year since 1977. This year, the exhibition is being held at the Shimane Prefectural Iwami Art Museum from July 18 (Saturday) to August 31 (Monday). 147 oil paintings and drawings including designated Important Cultural Properties “Lakeside” and “Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment”, a sketch block, and letters are to be exhibited. The paintings of Kuroda Seiki can be tracked from his early to later years.
Iwami is the birthplace of Mori Ogai, a great literary figure in the Meiji Period. Ogai went to Germany to study hygiene as an Army doctor and stayed there from 1884 to 1888. During this time, he frequently visited art museums and theaters and became familiar with artｓ. After returning to Japan, he added art criticism to his literary activities. When Kuroda Seiki submitted “Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment” to the Second Hakubakai during a debate about nude drawings, and received bad press, Ogai stated that he himself admired this work. Later in life, Ogai became the first Director of Teikoku Bijutsuin (Imperial Art Academy), and when he died in 1922, Kuroda was his successor: Thus, the two had various points of contact.
The Iwami Art Museum exhibits materials related to Ogai in the regular exhibition room along with the Kuroda Seiki exhibition. The works of Kuroda and his teacher Raphael Collin and the works of western painter/chirographer Nakamura Fusetsu, who wrote Ogai’s epitaph, are exhibited together so that visitors can learn about the friendship of cultural figures in the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-1926) Periods.
Mr. Marukawa’s workshop
The Institute has accumulated various materials from its investigation and research into tangible and intangible cultural properties in various fields. As such, the Institute has invited Mr. Marukawa Yuzo, Associate Professor (by special appointment) of the National Institute of Informatics, as a visiting researcher. In cooperation with him, we are trying to determine the best method of publicizing the data on material accumulated by our Institute so that they can be used effectively. As part of this project, Mr. Marukawa presented a lecture entitled “Transmitting Information on Art Data Spread by Association” on June 23. He introduced an association retrieval system that allows cross-searching of multiple databases designated by the retrieving person. He then showed how to use the system and demonstrated association retrieval using the data owned by our Institute. We concentrate on the collection and storage of materials as basic data, and plan to more carefully examine our electronic information disclosure methods going forward.
Nowadays everyone easily uses a camera and takes pictures. But in the days when photography such as adjustment of focus, exposure, development was entirely left to manual operations, photographs were very valuable: Those photo data became clues to examining the corresponding age, including the background behind the photograph.
In 2006 and 2007, Mr. Kaneko Mitsuo, a descendant of Kuroda Seiki’s wife Teruko, donated the photos and mementos of Kuroda Seiki that Mr. Kaneko had kept stored to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The Institute’s Department of Research Programming investigated and arranged the logs of these materials and relevant items, and held an exhibition entitled “Photos Taken of Kuroda Seiki” in the Kuroda Memorial Hall last year. This project revealed the Kuroda image in a public place and included images such as a large-sized portrait of Kuroda Seiki in a court dress taken by Ogawa Kazumasa, an Imperial art specialist.
This year, “Photos Taken of Kuroda Seiki II” was held in the Kuroda Memorial Hall from March 19 (Thu) to July 9 (Thu), with themes including “family portraits” and “painter’s atelier” for the second time. Kuroda painted the woman who later became his wife in Lakeside, and he painted his family as models in many works. In addition to the portraits of his natural father, adoptive father, and mother, he used models; his niece Kimiko appeared in Sunlight shone through trees, another niece appeared in Yukiko, 11 year-old girl, his wife Teruko in Portrait of a woman (charcoal/paper, 1898) and Portrait of a woman (oil painting/canvas, 1911-1912). When comparing the photos of these people and the pictures painted by Kuroda, we find that the works were not simply portraits of which main purpose is resemblance, as the title Lakeside implies, but they also provide an opportunity to consider reproducibility and fictitiousness in paintings and photos.
The photos focus on the painter in his atelier and his concentration while he was producing the works. From the work hanging in the atelier we can understand the painter’s interests, and from the photos with models we can also grasp his relationship with them.
To prevent the originals of these photo materials from deteriorating by exhibition, pictures with the original texture preserved and reproduced to full-size photographs are exhibited. This demonstrates the results obtained by research and development of digital image formation technology that can conserve photo data and show it to the public. We will continue to promote the studying of Kuroda Seiki while considering the conservation of the data itself, and plan to exhibit/release the results in Kuroda Memorial Hall.