Japan collection on display again at Langen Foundation in Neuss

In Germany, just a little southwest of Dusseldorf is the city of Neuss. Here, on the grounds of a former NATO missile base, a beautiful private museum is housed: the Langen Foundation. It holds the Japanese art collection of Viktor and Marianne Langen in a building designed by the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

Passing a small pond you enter a glass and concrete structure, which has large gallery spaces filled with Japanese scroll paintings and folding screens, Buddhist sculptures and lacquer objects.

The exhibition A Sublime World takes the visitor on a journey through Japan’s art history from circa 1200-1900. Early Kamakura period (1185-1333) Buddhist paintings and sculptures tell the stories of esoteric Buddhism and Buddhism centered around the Buddha Amida. One large painting depicts the well-known theme of the death of the historical Buddha. In such paintings the body of the historical Buddha is surrounded by mourning disciples of the Buddha and as well as other mourning creatures: birds, elephants, insects and many more.

Death of historical Buddha, hanging scroll, 14th century, Langen Foundation

Furthermore, the exhibition presents many works of art of the Edo period (1603-1868) from various painting schools such as Kano, Rinpa and Maruyama-Shijō.

All together the Langen Foundation collection holds some 350 Japanese art works, which have been collected by Viktor and Marianne Langen since the 1960s. Besides Japanese art, the Langen Foundation collection also includes western contemporary art and art from other non-western cultures than Japan. The Langen Foundation is part of Museuminseln Hombroich, a park where art and nature come together. 

The Japan exhibition at the Langen Foundation runs until August 25, 2019. For more information visit the museum website.

An extensive selection of the Langen Foundation was published in in 1998: Miyako Murase, Herbstwind in den Kiefern, Japanische Kunst der Sammlung Langen, Munich-London-New York: Prestel. ISBN 97893791320113. 256 pages, 134 color illustrations.