Exhibition Outlines

No.15 The Age of Taikan Yokoyama -1920s-40s- (1997/3/25 - 1997/6/15)

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The Age of Taikan Yokoyama

Taikan Yokoyama, an undisputed leader of modern Japanese-style painting, and the artists of the Reorganized Japan Art Instilute (Saiko Nippon Bijutsuin) under his leadership steadily tightenend their relationships with the Imperia1 Family through presentation of their works to the noble family members from around the 11th year of Taisho (1922) through the early years of Showa (the late 1920s - the 1940s). Part of the motivation naturally was the artists' strong sense of reverence for the lmperia1 Family, but another and more complex motivation derived from the fact that the Japan Art Institute secretly harbored deeply-seated yearnings for authority - an apparent paradox for an organization which had chosen to have nothing to do with government patronage. It is no wonder, therefore, that the themes of the paintings offered during this period to the Imperial Family, sometimes freely and sometimes on order, should have been limited to those celebrating the beauty and dignity of the land, most typically in the forms of Mt.Fuji, the sun and a variety of waterfalls. It is also natural that Taikan's compositional stereotypes and characteristics should be easily discerned in all such paintings. In this sense, it can safely be claimed that the movement of the Reorganized Japan Art Institute in the late Taisho and early Showa periods smacks far more strongly of academism than its government-sponsored rivals.

The present exhibition attempts to shed light, through the display of more than 10 Taikan works in our possession, on his artistic gropings, especially in the field of landscapes, to establish modern Japanese-style painting as a sort of “official art” in the course of the late Taisho and early Showa periods. Also displayed are some of the albums of Paintings offered by the members of the Reorganized Japan Art Institute as well as some of the most representative landscapes of government-affiliated painters of the same periods. By so doing, we hope to pinpoint the special features of Taikan's art and find the true meaning of the great artist's works against the panorama of modern Japanese-style painting.