The Unmissable Watari-Um Museum for Contemporary Art
It’s futuristic form with a curved end and trompe l’œil striped texture makes Watari-Um an iconic building in Tokyo’s Gaienmae district. Beyond its architecture, the museum has established its reputation as an outstanding space for the staging of cutting edge contemporary art.
Designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta, master of geometry and simple shapes to which we also owe the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, Watari-Um opened in September 1990. The name Watari-Um is the a contraction of the name Watari and the word ‘museum’ to pay homage to the Watari family, a family of curators, several generations of whom have succeeded one another at the head of Watari-Um. From the outset, the museum has highlighted its Japanese roots, presenting local artists in elaborate exhibitions.
However the museum has also invited the world’s best known international artists from the contemporary period including Larry Clark, Joseph Beuys and Barry McGee. These big names sit alongside emerging artists from the contemporary Japanese scene, rendering the Watari-Um’s offering truly unique. One such highlight was Kazuki Umezawa’s explosive pop paintings and disjointed models dressed in Taku Obata jackets at the end of 2018.
The structure of Watari-Um is designed for an original means of viewing art. The second floor is where most of the exhibitions take place and thanks to ingenious openings in the upper floors that also let in light, the works exhibited at the lower levels can be also appreciated from an elevated perspective.
For fans of the museum gift shop, the bookstore ‘On Sundays’ on the ground floor is particularly well-stocked and has rare items sought out by owner Kisato Kusano.
3-7-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyowww.watarium.co.jp/
Plunged into the Intimacy of the Violent World of the Yakuza
The daily life of organised crime in Japan is analysed by Korean photograph Seung-Woo Yang, who saw it all from the inside.
The Japanese Film that Inspired Stanley Kubrick's ‘A Clockwork Orange’
The American filmmaker borrowed the aesthetic of several scenes in the film ‘Funeral Parade of Roses’ by Toshio Matsumoto.
Kohei Yoshiyuki, the Voyeur of Tokyo's Voyeurs
The reedition of the publication ‘The Park’ takes us on a night walk through the parks of Tokyo, out in full sight.
Shunga: an Erotic Art First Admired, Then Prohibited
Eminently inventive and marked by a liberated sense of sexuality, these engravings from the Edo period capture intimate moments in the act.
Bows and Arrows, the Haven of the Modern Japanese Art of Living
The concept store offers a selection of Japanese brands, showcasing the craftsmanship of artisans from around the country.