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The Art of the Matter

July 13, 2015
No Museum, No Life?
If you’ve ever wandered the gilded halls of the Uffizi in search of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, gasped at the magnificence of the British Museum’s Elgin Marbles, or queued up at MoMA for a treasured glimpse of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, then you’ll already appreciate the importance of the museum. This revered, historic institution is not only responsible for the conservation of myriad weird and wonderful artifacts and artworks, but also renders them available for all and sundry to see.

With this esoteric musing in mind, the Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (MOMAT) is getting rather meta with its own current exhibition No Museum, No Life? which explores the very concept of a gallery... begging the question, ‘What is an art museum?’

To attempt to answer this somewhat complex catechism, the MOMAT has enlisted the help of four of its peers from Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. The result of which is a creative and curatorial collab – the second of its kind – showcasing a special selection of approximately 170 works traversing time and place from pre-Christian to present and from East to West.

The expo has been ordered according to 36 keywords, arranged alphabetically, that relate to the structure and function of a museum. For example ‘A’ is for ‘artist’, while ‘F’ signifies ‘frame’ and ‘O’ represents ‘original’, which means that a meander through each hall is akin to wandering through an entire encyclopedia dedicated to a museum’s inner workings.

Naturally, as it has drawn from Japan’s richest artistic annals, the show assembles some astounding oeuvres under one incredibly arty roof, including Duchamp’s Fontana and The Thinker by Rodin. Now, what do you reckon to that, Ruskin?

Museum of Modern Art Tokyo / 3-1 Kitanomaru-koen / Chiyoda-ku / +81 3 3241 2561 / 10:00 am-5:00 pm daily /