Bamboo art in the Met’s Japanese galleries

The Japanese galleries at the Met are like a bride -- they always have something old, something new, and no doubt if you look hard enough you'll spot something blue.  This summer, bamboo art is the overarching theme, starting with "The Gate," an amazing construct that artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV created for the entrance to … Continue reading Bamboo art in the Met’s Japanese galleries

Layers of invention

There is much deception uncovered in the Sackler's "Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered.”  There is the question of whether the show's three central paintings are really by Kitagawa Utamaro, famous mostly for his ukiyo-e prints.  For that matter, was Utamaro himself the 17th-century Don Juan of the pleasure quarters that his marketers made him out to be?  And, … Continue reading Layers of invention

crossing into hell

"Masters of Mercy" -- what a well constructed show of paintings featuring rakans, the Buddha's disciples (or luohan as the Chinese refer to them) who so often stare out with fierce expressions, as though to remind us that this whole enlightenment business is hard work. The show starts with a couple of paintings by Kano … Continue reading crossing into hell