Encountering epoch-making art ”The Taro Okamoto Museum of Art”

Encountering epoch-making art
”The Taro Okamoto Museum of Art”

An introduction to artist, Taro Okamoto

”Art is explosion.” is a phrase by Taro Okamoto, a world renowned artist and a familiar face to TV viewers. Taro Okamoto was born in 1911, in Kawasaki, Kanagawa where his mother’s family lived. Okamoto was born to an artistic family, his father Ippei Okamoto was a renowned cartoonist, his mother Kanoko was a poet and a novelist. He entered Tokyo Fine Arts School and for 10 years from the age 18 lived in France. He was influenced by the surrealism movement and avant-garde arts in Europe, and actively exhibited his works in his twenties. He returned to Japan and was sent to the front during World War II. During the turbulent period after the war, he produced numerous works.
For example, the symbol of Expo ’70 in Osaka, ”The Tower of the Sun”, and ”Myth of Tomorrow” which was created at the same time as ”The Tower of the Sun”, is currently placed at Shibuya Station, and many other large structures and paintings are displayed everywhere. He published his thoughts on ”Jomon” Earthenware in which he emphasized the innate life force and creativity of mankind, and continued to challenge himself in expressing himself. He appeared on commercials on television, and his unique way of thinking impressed viewers all over Japan. Nakata visited the museum displaying art pieces by this artist who passed away in 1996.

The Taro Okamoto Museum of Art

Ikuta-Ryokuchi is a vast city park with numerous cultural facilities on its premise. The Taro Okamoto Museum of Art was opened in 1999 and it displays and retains artwork by the artist Taro Okamoto. When the artist turned 80, he donated his works to Kawasaki City, and it was decided that a museum would be built to preserve and show his artwork to future generation. There are over 1700 pieces of paintings, sculptures, and photographs by Okamoto. The museums exhibition of its permanent collection is changed 4 times a year.
Nakata listened to the commentary given to each piece by the docent. ”Okamoto did not like ’wabi-sabi.’ Japan had Jomon era long before that!’ he would say.” Nakata was drawn in by the energy of Okamoto’s work.
You can actually sit on the sculpture titled ”Chair Refusing to Sit Anyone” but, ”The seat is a face.” ”Yes, Taro used to say ’chairs shaped for people to sit comfortably are merely flattering people’ and he made this chair.” The chair has eyes and mouth-like features that are somewhat humorous. You can see numerous creations by Okamoto, including the symbol of this museum, ”Tower of Mother.”

Toward future art

The Temporary Exhibition Gallery not only exhibits Okamoto’s pieces but also art work by many other artists. The Taro Okamoto Award for Contemporary Art is a major annual event of the museum. The ”Taro Award” seeks to find ”those who will make history” as mentioned in his book. Based on this concept, the contest is open to all creators, professional and amateur. This exhibition for artists who are free thinking and unconventional is known as the gateway to success for contemporary artists. The pieces by these artist of the next generation were all truly original.
Why not visit ”The Taro Okamoto Museum of Art”, a museum surrounded by rich nature and a place where you can discover Okamoto’s artwork as well as artwork by various other artists.


The Taro Okamoto Museum of Art
7-1-5 Masugata, Tama-ku, Kawasaki
URL http://www.taromuseum.jp/english/index_english.html