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Past Special Exhibition 2009

Komura Settai Exhibition — Faces of Old Edo

2 October (Fri) to 20 December (Sun), 2009

Komura Settai (1887–1940) was a Japanese style painter known for establishing his own world in realms like book illustration, bookbinding and cover design, and performing arts.
Komura Settai (Taisuke) was born in Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture and attended Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (now Tokyo University of the Arts), where he studied under Shimomura Kanzan. After graduating he worked at the studio producing the art journal Kokka making copies of older paintings and pictures. From 1918 to 1923 he was a member of the nascent Shiseido design department, in charge of Japanese-style designs, and was also one of those involved in creating the “Shiseido typeface” still in use today.
Komura was well versed in Japanese-style painting, and in 1914 was lauded for his cover design for Izumi Kyoka's novel Nihonbashi. From 1933 he began illustrating novels serialized in the Tokyo Asahi Newspaper, such as the Osen series by Kunieda Kanji, solidifying his reputation in the field.
This exhibition included four original illustrations from Osen, works that had been well known but the whereabouts of which had long remained unclear. These joined nearly seventy others, including stage device designs, woodblock prints, book covers, and various works produced while on the Shiseido payroll, all introducing the world of Komura Settai and the way his lyrical brush captured so well the beauty of the manners, customs, and faces of old Edo.

The Glories of Nature — Flowers and Birds, Wind and Moon: The Appeal of Japanese Painting

3 July (Fri) to 27 September (Sun), 2009

This exhibition selected works from the collection highlighting landscapes, flower-and-bird paintings, and other Japanese expressions of the beauty of nature.
The Japanese expression “ka-cho-fu-getsu” (lit. flowers, birds, wind, moon) is a set phrase used to refer to the beauties of the natural world, and also connotes a sense of refinement and elegance. It serves as one conceptual basis and point of departure for Japanese-style painting addressing the wonders of nature as seen through the changing seasons.
The pigments and adhesives used in Japanese painting are by no means easy to handle, and the resulting pictures have a certain fragility to them. Yet, the fact that this manner of painting has been carried on in Japan for over a thousand years is testament to its power as the most appropriate mode for expressing the Japanese spirit and the Japanese sense of nature.
This exhibition presented twenty-six works by nine artists representative of the post-war stage of Japanese painting, among them several Order of Culture recipients including Okumura Togyu, Uemura Shoko, and Takayama Tatsuo.

Shapes to Put Things In — The World of Traditional Japanese Boxes

7 April (Tue) to 28 June (Sun), 2009

This exhibition displayed the various forms of the Japanese “box.”
Since antiquity, people have been creating boxes in great diversity to highlight their fondness for or the importance of the things placed inside. In part of Asia in particular, different words were created to identify different kinds of boxes, depending on the materials used to make them and their shape. Today we are surrounded by a plethora of boxes—boxes for practical use, boxes with religious meanings, boxes for keepsakes, boxes for preserving things, and many other uses.
This exhibition began with a simple definition—“box: a container hollow inside and equipped with a lid”—and went on to introduce the appeal of boxes in their many forms. It displayed over fifty boxes: some created as art by artists considered living national treasures; Edo-period makeup boxes and their contents, created as bridal dowries; boxes as packaging for fine perfumes by the likes of René Lalique; and boxes of more recent vintage created for everyday enjoyment—and made of diverse materials from lacquer and ceramic to metal, glass, wood, and paper.
Through the ages, for many uses, made by different craftsmen by different techniques, this exhibition explored the passion, enthusiasm, and rich imagination that people have put into the simple constructions known as “boxes.”

Masterpieces from the Shiseido Collection — Later Works in Western Painting, Modern Art, Lacquer Ware, Bamboo Work, and Metal Craft

10 January (Sat) to 29 March (Sun), 2009

The Shiseido Art House was opened in November 1978 in Kakegawa, Shizuoka. Over the thirty years since it has served as an art museum for the region, holding over seventy exhibitions.
This exhibition celebrated those thirty years with a presentation of about 130 works of Japanese, Western, and modern art and craft, including many that visitors to the museum have appreciated the most over the years, as well as significant works from the earlier and later Tsubakikai (1st through 4th) and Modern Industrial Art exhibitions (1975–95).
A corporation might ask, “What can we do to forge positive relationships with our customers?” One of Shiseido's answers has been to present these thirty years worth of public art exhibitions. It's often said that an art collection reflects the character of the person who collected it, but the same can be said for a company. The collection is the face of the company, and this exhibition in particular was an embodiment of yet another aspect of Shiseido's beauty consciousness, apart from being a cosmetics manufacturer.