The Suntory Museum of Art in Roppongi, Tokyo will turn 60 in 2021. To celebrate its anniversary, the museum has curated a special schedule of exhibitions, bringing Japanese and foreign masterpieces together under one roof.

Since opening in Marunouchi, Tokyo in 1961, the Suntory Museum of Art has been instrumental in popularizing Japanese art. In the early years, the museum organized its exhibitions around the principle of ‘Beauty in Life.’ After it moved to Roppongi in 2007, it adopted the slogan ‘Connecting Beauty, Opening Beauty.’

The museum’s first exhibition of 2021 is ‘Art Revisited, Beauty Revealed: Six Storied Exchanges,’ which will run from December 16th, 2020 to February 28th, 2021. The idea is to find connections between old and new art, regardless of national borders, ethnic boundaries and era. Ditching the parameters of the Middle Ages, the early modern period and the modern era, this exhibition will showcase glass, prints, paintings and ceramics from east and west to tell the story of artistic beauty.

Next up is the museum’s special exhibition of works from the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The Institute holds about 3000 ukiyo-e paintings, making it one of the largest collections of Japanese art in the United States. This large-scale homecoming exhibition illustrates the transition of Japanese painting between the Middle Ages and the modern era. It centres on Edo-era paintings from the Kano school, Rinpa school, fantasy school, and ukiyo-e. The exhibition will run from April 14th until June 27th, 2021.

Poster for the museum’s Art in Life, Life and Beauty exhibition from May 2020. | © Kyodo News PR Wire

This will be followed by an exhibition provisionally entitled ‘Noisy Japanese Art, which will run between July 14th and August 29th, 2021. How often have you gone to an art exhibition to see the work, but found yourself so busy reading the captions that you left without feeling that you’d really appreciated the works? This exhibition is designed to relax eyes, minds and hearts. It is comprised of some of the museum’s rare and hidden treasures and masterpieces.

Between September 15th and October 31st, 2021, the museum will hold an exhibition of Japanese swords provisionally entitled ‘Touken Mononofu no Kokoro.’ From the Heian period to the present day, Japanese swordsmiths have produced no end of famous swords. These swords have been prized as tools to tell the story of the samurai since the early modern period. This exhibition brings together wonderful examples in a celebration of art and craftsmanship. Alongside the swords will be scrolls depicting battle scenes and paintings that tell the story of the samurai. It promises to be a great way to enjoy Japan’s sophisticated samurai culture.

The last exhibition of 2021 will commemorate the 1400th anniversary of the Holy Memorial and will run from November 17th, 2021 to January 10th, 2022. Prince Shotoku (574-622), the regent of Empress Suiko, is credited with laying the foundations of the Japanese state. He was an early convert to Buddhism and became one of its best-known and most effective proselytizers. Prince Shotoku has been revered ever since. To commemorate the 1400th anniversary of his death, this exhibition, organized with the cooperation of Shitennoji Temple in Osaka, will trace the prince’s life and the spread of the Buddhist faith with a number of masterpieces.

For more details, see here.

By - George Lloyd.