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Talking about Art

The Viewpoint of Yusuke Nakahara

February 11 - April 10, 2016

9:30-17:00 (last admission 16:30)
Mondays (except Mar. 21), Mar. 22
DIC Corporation
Chiba Prefecture, Chiba Prefectural Board of Education, Sakura City, Sakura City Board of Education

Museum Admission

  • Adults ¥1,000
  • College / 65 and over ¥800
  • Elem / JH / HS ¥600

Groups of 20 or more:

  • Adults ¥900
  • College / 65 and over ¥700
  • Elem / JH / HS ¥500

Persons with a disability pass:

  • Adults ¥800
  • College / 65 and over ¥600
  • Elem / JH / HS ¥400

*Admission also includes entrance to the permanent collection galleries.
- For students and seniors over 65, discounts require identification such as a Student ID, passport or driver's license.
- For persons with a disability pass=the same discounted price applies for one accompanying care-giver for each disability pass holder


What are the standards and criteria by which a museum collects and exhibits works of art? Such standards can be said to constitute to a large degree a museum’s policies and identity. At the same time, however, there exists what can be seen as a common base of knowledge about art that is widely shared among contemporaries and experts in each field of the arts, and this base can surely be described as a view of art history that is shaped by a intricately woven mix of influences, including journalism, the art market, the contributions of researchers, academia, etc., and the activities of art museums, both domestic and foreign. In this exhibition, we look at the work of one art critic in an attempt to present an overview of how contemporary art, particularly of the 1960s and ’70s, came to be introduced and evaluated in Japan. In this exploration we take as examples primarily artists whose works feature prominently in the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art’s collection.

The late Yusuke Nakahara (1931-2011) was one of the leading art critics in Japan’s postwar era. While studying theoretical physics in the doctorate course of the Division of Physics and Astronomy of the School of Science of Kyoto University, Nakahara won first prize in an open critical essay contest conducted by the art magazine Bijutsu Hihyo (1955). This award marked the start of his career as an art critic. In his ensuing long career at the forefront of Japanese art criticism, Nakahara wrote many critiques in a rational style that explained and supported the work of avant-garde artists, while at the same time leaving his mark on the art scene by planning and curating important exhibitions such as “Fuzai no Heya Ten” (Room in Alibi, 1963) and “Ningen to Busshitsu Ten” (Between Man and Matter, 1970).

During his career, Nakahara developed relationships and correspondence with numerous artists, both from Japan and abroad, and wrote critical essays about their work. The profession of an art critic involves writing for a variety of media, ranging from gallery exhibition leaflets and magazine articles to books of art works and the catalogues of Museum exhibitions, as well as writing their own books of critical essays. Over the course of time, these critiques take on increasing social significance and contribute to the shaping of the commonly accepted views on artists and their art. In this sense, it can surely be said that the work of art critics plays a significant role in the process through which artists establish their footing as recognized by both themselves and others.

In our museum’s collection, there are many works by artists with whom Nakahara had friendly working relationships and many whose works he critiqued. In this exhibition, we re-examine these works of contemporary art in our collection from the perspective of Yusuke Nakahara, while exhibiting them along with published writings and the like from the time and some 40 small works that remained in Nakahara’s personal collection at the time of his death.


Yusuke Nakahara Profile

Born in Kobe, Japan in 1931, Yusuke Nakahara studied physics at the Kyoto University School of Science, and while studying for his masters degree he won first prize in the 2nd Bijutsu Hihyo open art critique contest with an essay titled Sozo no tame no Hihyo (Critique for Creation). After that Nakahara began his career as an art critic. Moving to Tokyo in 1956, he began writing regularly for the Yomiuri Newspaper Evening Edition “Exhibition Weekly Critique” column. As a critic, Nakahara was known for his rational critiques of Japanese avant-garde art and continued to be at the forefront of Japanese art criticism.

Among Nakahara’s books are Nonsense no Bigaku (The art of nonsense, 1962) that dealt with the quest for essence of art works that went beyond the typical stereotypes into the realm of nonsense (followed by a new revised version titled Nonsense no Geijutsu-ron (Theory of nonsense art, 1972), and Gendai Chokoku (Contemporary Sculpture, 1956, with revised editions in 1982 and ’87) reviewing the history of 20th century sculpture with its new materials and spaces based on his own unique theories. In 1972, Nakahara published two collections of essays that were leading examples of new trends in criticism, titled Miru koto no Shinwa (The Mythology of Seeing) and Ningen to Busshitsu no Aida (Between Man and Matter). Another example of his wide-ranging writings was Gendai Geijutsu Nyumon (Introduction to contemporary art, 1979). In his later years Nakahara wrote about a published art from a large range of eras in books like 1930 nendai no Mexico (Mexico in the 1930s, 1994) and Naze Hito wa E wo Kaku noka (Why do humans draw pictures, 2001).

Furthermore, Nakahara’s grasp of the trends among contemporary artists led him to organize a number of outstanding exhibitions, such as Fuzai no Heya Ten (Room in Alibi, 1963, Naiqua Gallery) and “Ningen to Busshitsu Ten” (Between Man and Matter, 1970, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, etc.), and he also served as a commissioner for several international exhibitions such as the Paris Biennale (1967), Sao Paulo Biennale (1973, 75) and the Venice Biennale (1976, 78).

For the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art, Nakahara wrote an essay titled “American Contemporary Art” for the book of the museum’s collection, Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, in 1990. During his career, Nakahara also served as the artistic director of the Art Tower Mito, taught as a professor and served as dean at Kyoto Seika University, director of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, and served as chairman of the Japan branch of the Association of Art Critics, among other positions. Nakahara died in 2011 at the age of 79.



Mar. 6 (Sun.) 13:30-16:00
Panelists: Hiroshi Nakamura(Painter), Ren Fukuzumi(Art critic), Yoko Watanabe(Keio University Art Center)
Reservation needed

Gallery Talk by the Curator (in Japanese)

Feb.11 (Thu., Holiday), Mar. 5 (Sat.) and Mar. 12 (Sat.) 14:00-15:00 
The curator in charge talks about the exhibition in the galleries.
No reservations needed / Gather at the Entrance Hall 14:00

Guided Tours

Tours of the permanent collection by guide staff.
14:00-15:00 daily except on days of symposiums, curator gallery talks.
No reservations needed / Gather at the Entrance Hall 14:00