Yōga painting at Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, 8 October-21 February 2016.

Exh Japans love SotaroYōga painting or Japanese western style painting (mostly oil painting) is hardly exhibited, let alone collected, by museums outside Japan. Two years ago the Cleveland Museum of Art organized the exhibition Remaking Tradition, curated by Japanese scholars with works from the Tokyo National Museum. In 2007 Japanese painters in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century were the subject of an exhibition at the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris.
And in 2004 the Honolulu Academy of Arts staged an exhibition showing Yōga paintings together with western paintings kept in Japanese museums. A similar approach towards the interaction between Japanese and western art, is now chosen by the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn for their exhibition Japan’s Love for Impressionism. From Monet to Renoir.

The majority of the works on display in Bonn, are western impressionist and post-impressionist works from Japanese collections: over a hundred works by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin and other well-known European artists . A smaller part of the exhibition is dedicated to early 20th century Japanese oil painting and includes works by artists such as Kojima Torajirō (1881-1929) and Yasui Sōtarō (1888-1955). Japan’s Love for Impressionism provides a unique opportunity to see these relatively unknown works in a European museum.

The curators concentrate on Japan’s interest in Western art at the turn of the 19th century and how  western art was collected in early 20th century Japan, through business men like Ōhara Magosaburō (1880-1943) and Matsukata Kōjirō (1865-1950).

Exh Japans love for impressionismŌhara’s collecting activities led to the opening of the Ōhara Art Museum in 1930, making it Japan’s first museum dedicated to western art. Matsukata relied on the artist Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956) as his advisor when purchasing western art. He preferred to buy from artists directly, but was also a customer of Parisian art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). In 1921 Matsukata purchased 34 works by Monet in a short period of just six months. Ultimately Matsukata had some 1700 works by artists such as Rodin, Denis, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Cassatt and Van Dongen, but also old masters such as Rembrandt and Tintoretto. Matsukata’s western art collection would form the basis for the National Museum for Western Art in Tokyo, founded in 1959.

Japan’s Love for Impressionism runs until 21 February 2016 and a catalogue accompanies the exhibition. For more information visit the website of the Bundeskunsthalle.

Bundeskunsthalle, Japan’s love for impressionism. From Monet to Renoir, Munich: Prestel, 2015. ISBN 9783791354965. 288 pages, 200 color illustrations.