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Past Exhibitions
 
 
‘Kayo (Flower Sprites) ― Taro Okamoto’s Literary Illustrations’

Exhibition Period:
July 31, 2013 - December 27, 2013

When people hear the name Taro Okamoto, they tend to think of his large-scale works, such as the Tower of the Sun or Myth of Tomorrow, but in actual fact, he also produced numerous cover designs and illustrations for novels. This was particularly true of the years immediately following the Second World War when his work was used in a wide range of media, including books, newspapers and magazines. Returning penniless from prisoner-of-war camp in China he was forced to make a new start and these jobs provided him sufficient income to make a living.

Demobilized in June 1946, it was around November before Taro finally succeeded in finding a studio, situated in the Kaminoge district of Tokyo, where he could begin his creative activities in Japan. From February 1947 he began to produce illustrations for a serial novel that was published in a daily newspaper. This was Ango Sakaguchi’s novel, Kayo that was published in the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper. The series was discontinued unfinished after the 58th installment in May 1947, but all 58 of Taro’s illustrations expressed a tense creativity that was ideally suited Sakaguchi’s work.

This exhibition will be the first time that all the 54 extant illustrations for Kayo will be shown. Their location had long remained unknown, but the Foundation finally managed to obtain them last year. This is the first opportunity to view Taro Okamoto’s world of illustration through such a large number of works and although it presents a slightly different image of Taro, it is undeniably his work. We hope you will enjoy it.

 
   
 
 
‘PAVILION’

Exhibition Period:
March 30, 2013 - July 28, 2013

We have never seen Taro or Toshiko,
In order to travel between these facts
We continue back and forth between
The house of memories and the scent of life
And the cemetery
Where death is buried like rubbish and put to rest.

In order to pick up and discard
The superfluities scattered in both

These are the things that pollute the present
But like the motivation to create language
Like the social problems that face those who nod,
They are what nourish art.

That is why we want to tell them not to kill all of these
Nuclear, waste, color, myths, oblivion, centuries, graves, peace, or war
The concept of names like Taro and Chim↑Pom and work
The inevitability of the existence of good or evil numbers or religion or society or ethics
Do not create any of them, that is what we want to say

It is the art that is born from these contradictions
That is the true opinion of being that ultimately knows nothing.
We ask it from the bottom of our hearts

We become
Rubbish, god and stones
We do not know what we want to say,
We just continue to look at bones

Chim↑Pom 2013

 
   
 
 
‘Excavating Taro’

Exhibition Period:
Oct 31, 2012 - March 24, 2013

There are many paintings by Taro Okamoto that have long been lost. Photographs of them exist, but not the works. Records exist of them being entered into exhibitions, but not the actual works. They appear to have disappeared without a trace, as if spirited away.

However, they have not ‘disappeared’. Recent research has uncovered various facts. The majority of them were overpainted by Taro himself. This was not done merely to alter or correct the image, he changed them to such an extent that they took on a totally different appearance and could no longer be recognized.

Many of his valuable early works from the 1940s and 1950s were lost in this way. Moreover, the works that resulted from this overpainting were all roughly done and poorly finished. They can honestly only be described as being poor paintings. I wish they had been left as they were. That is my honest opinion. But why would Taro do such a thing?
The missing works share no commonality and there is no obvious reason for them to have been destroyed. After all, he had been proud enough of them to enter them into exhibitions. No matter how hard I think about it, I cannot understand his motive.

One thing we know for certain is the fact that these valuable works of Taro’s are buried in front of our eyes. I want to see them with my own eyes. It is a simple wish, to dig up a work that is buried underground and expose it to the sun once more. That is a true excavation.

Of course, they could be recreated from the original photographs using computer graphics. However, the results would lack presence, and fail to transmit the true atmosphere of the work. I want to see oil paintings as oil paintings. To this end, I have chosen five of the missing works and painted them afresh, using oils.

Some people may criticize my actions, saying that I should not be allowed to selfishly expose these works that the artist had chosen to hide, but I am prepared for this.

‘Once an artist has sent his work out into the world, it no longer belongs to him. It belongs to everybody.’ This is something that Okamoto himself said numerous times.

Through contact with ‘our works’ that have long been lost, I hope to be able to draw slightly closer to the true image of Taro Okamoto. It was with this ambition that I created this exhibition.

 
   
 
 
‘Taro Okamoto―Playing with Textiles’

Exhibition Period:
June 27, 2012 - October 28, 2012

In 1951 Taro coated one hand in bright red paint then pressed it on the left breast of a beautiful fashion model. In this way, a white evening dress became decorated with successive handprints, one after the other. The dress was transformed from a practical object into art. It was the moment when Okamoto art met design.

In this way, Taro became interested in textiles and continued to play with fabric from that time on. Long-sleeved kimono, obi, yukata kimono, scarves, handkerchiefs, ties…even carpets and carp streamers, he reached out to a wide variety of textile objects, steadily enlarging the range of his design.

‘The age when art was confined to picture frames is past. Art must become part of the living environment. We need to move away from the restraints of stereotypes or formality and exercise a free, brightly-colored imagination. I want people to introduce this joy into their lives.’

In this exhibition we want you to see Taro playing with textiles. Art is not something that should be placed in a frame and worshiped. It should be allowed to exist in ordinary, everyday life. If you see this exhibition, you will understand Taro’s outlook on art.

Concurrent Exhibition:
‘Work by the winners of the 15th Okamoto Taro Memorial Award for Contemporary Art’
During this period new works by Kazumasa Chiba, winner of the ‘Taro Okamoto Prize’, and Kotaro Sekiguchi, winner of the ‘Toshiko Okamoto Prize’ in the ‘15th Okamoto Taro Memorial Award for Contemporary Art’, will also be shown. We hope that you will enjoy these, too.

 
   
 
 
‘Fifty Years of Taro Okamoto’

Exhibition Period:
February 29, 2012 - June 24, 2012

Returning from prisoner-of-war camp in China in June 1946, Taro Okamoto set up a studio in the Kaminoge district of Tokyo in November of the same year and prepared to resume his career. For the next fifty years, until his death in 1996, he never paused in his creative activities.

More than one hundred years have passed since his birth and we have moved into a new century, but we wanted to create a direct experience of Taro Okamoto’s fifty years of creativity. That was the motive behind this exhibition. Starting with his monumental Lightning Bolt (1947), that is thought to be his first major work of the postwar years, to his final work, Thunder Man (1996) that he created immediately prior to his death, we will present an overview of the path his career took through his paintings.

What changed over this period of fifty years and what remained the same? Everybody is sure to make their own discoveries.

We will also present a video, entitled ‘Taro Okamoto’ that contains a wealth of valuable information on the artist. This video was created specially for the museum, and a single screening of it was presented at last October’s ‘Roll Over TARO’ event, which was held to celebrate Taro’s one hundredth birthday.

 
   
 
 
‘Kenji Yanobe: Sun Child―Taro’s Child’

Exhibition Period:
October 28, 2011 - February 26, 2012

For this, the final exhibition at the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum to celebrate Taro’s 100th birthday, we have invited the artist, Kenji Yanobe, a leader of the Japanese contemporary art scene, to participate.

Yanobe grew up in Osaka where as a child he played on the site of the Osaka World Expo ‘70, becoming aware of Taro Okamoto from an early age. Starting with his video work, Taiyo-no-to nottori keikaku (Plan to hijack the Tower of the Sun), this artist has often challenged Taro head-on.

This Yanabe will venture into the museum with his new large-scale work, Sun Child, created specially for this exhibition. It is sure to cause a seismic tremor.

This promises to create a stimulating experience, with a leading young talent producing an innovative concept through which to confront Taro.

Please come and enjoy this exciting experience, one that is most appropriate for Taro’s 100th birthday.

 
   
 
 
‘Another Taro’

Exhibition Period:
June 29, 2011 - October 23, 2011

The general image of Taro Okamoto’s work can be summed up as being: highly abstract forms with intense coloring employing primary colors. No nudes and no still-lifes. Most people believe that Taro Okamoto did not produce any realistic paintings.

Naturally, I thought the same myself. Apart from a few exceptions, such as works he produced during the war or death masks of relatives and friends, there are no realistic images by Taro. That is what I used to believe, in fact, even Toshiko Okamoto once stated that, ‘there are no self-portraits of Taro Okamoto’.

However, last year some amazing sketches came to light. They clearly date from the Kaminoge studio days and two of them feature Taro and Toshiko. This is doubtless the only self-portrait of him, drawn sixty years ago, and even Toshiko had forgotten about its existence. There is also a picture of a Toshiko that according to the people who knew her best, is the image of her when she was young, executed with amazing expressive skill. Both of them are the exact opposite of the usual image of his work, in that they display a quiet, gentle likeness.

This exhibition will present all the known lifelike pictures reproducing the expressions of people who were close to Taro. They are not pictures that were meant to be shown to the public.

Here you can find another Taro, one we did not know existed. However, there can be no doubt that it is still Taro.

Concurrent Exhibition:
‘Works by the winners of the 14th Okamoto Taro Memorial Award for Contemporary Art’

During this period new works by OLTA, winner of the ‘Taro Okamoto Prize’, and Toshitaka Machizuki, winner of the ‘Toshiko Okamoto Prize’ in the ‘14th Okamoto Taro Memorial Award for Contemporary Art’, will also be shown. We hope that you will enjoy these, too.

 
   
 
 
‘Tree of Life’

Exhibition Period:
February 23, 2011 - June 26, 2011

When Taro Okamoto agreed to become Theme Producer for the Osaka World Expo, he said ‘No!’ to progressivism, piercing the roof of the pavilion with the Tower of the Sun, and inside this womb he developed the concept of a dynamic microcosm. This was the Tree of Life.

As it wound upwards, this single tree was packed with 300 varieties of living being, from monads to mankind, illustrating the process of evolution.

This period of life, that continues all the way from the subterranean to the sky. The development and transformation of life that has continued busily from its beginnings. The dignity and dynamism of life that rises up from its roots towards the future.

It was a peerless piece of art that only Taro Okamoto could create.

Unfortunately, however, after the Expo it was removed and it can no longer be seen today.

However, as this year marks the 100th anniversary of Taro’s birth, we have decided to have the Tree of Life re-created.

The work was handled by Kaiyodo, a champion of the figurine world.

We hope that you will come and see for yourself, this forty-year-old monument that only exists now in photographs. You are certain to make a new discovery.

 
   
 
 
‘Garbled Characters ― A Challenge from Calligrapher Koji Kakinuma’

Exhibition Period:
November 3, 2010 - February 20, 2011

Young people today are calling for Taro Okamoto
Trapped within a stifling sense of stagnation, his honest way of life appears dazzling.

However, Taro Okamoto is not somebody to be copied or worshipped.
It is not the job of those left behind to look after his grave.
It would not please Taro or Toshiko Okamoto for them to do so.

There is only one thing to do.
That is to confront him head on.

Happily, there is an artist who is willing to challenge Taro.
That is the spirited young calligrapher, Koji Kakinuma.
He is prepared for the worst!

So, what kind of battle will it be…?
Why don’t you come and check out the battle at a ringside seat.

 
   
 
 
‘Taro in the Streets’

Exhibition Period:
June 30, 2010 - October 31, 2010

What is the point of painting pictures only for them to be bought by rich people and locked away like money in the bank?

Art is for the masses. This is the basic philosophy that underlies Taro Okamoto’s art.

The reason why he did not sell his paintings, why he ignored the protests of those around him to produce giveaways for a whisky company, is because he believed that art should be set free among the daily lives of the people.
For this reason, public art, that can be seen anytime, by anyone, for free, provided Taro with the ideal stage.

The Tower of the Sun, Tree of Children, Young Clock Tower, Pride, Jomon People… Taro Okamoto produced numerous works to be displayed in public spaces throughout the country. These can still be found in locations stretching from the Tohoku region in the north to Kyushu in the south, continuing to challenge all those who see them. It is unlikely that there is another artist, anywhere, who has produced so much public art.

This exhibition will introduce the varied public art that Taro Okamoto set free on the city streets. They are a bit different to the art seen in museums, and we hope that you will enjoy this ‘Taro in the Streets’.

Concurrent Exhibition:
A new work by the winner of the ‘Toshiko Okamoto Prize’ in the 13th Okamoto Taro Memorial Award for Contemporary Art will also make an appearance. We hope that you will enjoy this too.

 
   
 
 
‘The Eye of Taro Okamoto’

Exhibition Period:
March 3, 2010 - June 27, 2010

They are not photographs. They are Taro Okamoto’s eye. They are what he saw, and provide us with an image of the man that was Taro Okamoto.

‘They have an solid sense of presence, a figurative power of form. The timing is so perfect that they make a mockery of the term ‘crucial moment’ that is so often used in connection with photography. They truly represent a single moment, the glimpse of a firework, purity.’ (Toshiko Okamoto)

From the 1950s to 1960s Taro hung several cameras around his neck as he traveled around Japan, taking a huge number of photographs. These were not just records of things that he made as an alternative to sketching, but neither were they created as ‘works’. He was simply moved by things that he saw and devoted himself to photographing them.

The things that Okamoto’s gaze captured have become fixed, and can truly be described as ‘the eye of Taro Okamoto’. They are engraved with the atmosphere of primordial Japan and represent a valuable record that can never be reproduced.

This exhibition will introduce the variety of photographs taken by Taro Okamoto, and we hope that you will come to experience the ‘Taro’s gaze.’

 
   
 
 
‘Taro Okamoto’s “Living Things”’

Exhibition Period:
October 28, 2009 - February 28, 2010

‘Not human. Not animal
Living things that can only be said to belong to a wonderworld.
This strange ‘life’ draws close to us in a vivid manner.
Is this Taro Okamoto? Or is it something from another world that he is observing?
―Whichever it may be, it is alive!’

This is something that Toshiko Okamoto once said.
All the various ‘living things’ that appear in Taro’s work.
These may well be Taro Okamoto’s self-portraits.

This exhibition gathers together all these ‘living things’ in one place. It becomes a space in which goggling eyes appear to float, allowing you to experience the dynamism of the ‘life’ that Taro creates.

Simultaneously, we will present, for the first time, a ‘rare’ symbol mark that Taro designed for the Kintetsu Buffalos baseball team but which was lost for a long time. With its humorous expression, it is a quite different design to the well-known version that was ultimately adopted. It has been locked away for fifty years, but is now finally making its debut.

During this exhibition, works by Kurumi Wakaki, who won the ‘Taro Okamoto Prize’, and Yukie Osa, who won the ‘Toshiko Okamoto Prize’, in the 12th Okamoto Taro Memorial Award for Contemporary Art will also be shown. We hope that you will look forward to seeing these too.

 
   
 
 
‘The Wellspring of Images’

Exhibition Period:
July 1, 2009 - October 25, 2009

First comes the impulse to express ‘something like this’. Next is the enthusiasm to put it into concrete form. It starts with a quick sketch, created to drag it out of the imagination and into the real world as quickly as possible.

This was the process employed by Taro Okamoto in his work.

He produced numerous sketches of the images that rose up in his mind until he was able to grasp them accurately. He repeatedly asked himself if the result was consistent with the original image. He never produced a work based solely on a fleeting thought.

He would say ‘I want to draw something like this’. Looking at the vast collection of esquisses that Taro left behind, is to see graphic images of the impulses that drove him.

This exhibition will provide the opportunity to view all kinds of esquisse―designs, dessins and sketches, allowing the viewer to experience Taro Okamoto’s creative processes firsthand.

We hope you will enjoy the work of this ‘other Taro’ that possesses a different aura to that of his finished works.

 
   
 
 
‘Tracing 40 Years of “Myth of Tomorrow”’

Exhibition Period:
February 25, 2009 - June 28, 2009

In November, 2008, the Myth of Tomorrow was unveiled at its final resting place in Shibuya, forty years after it was first completed in Mexico.

It has been five years since the miraculous reunion of Toshiko Okamoto with this work, that had been abandoned in a pitiful state.

Long having been tossed by the vicissitudes of fortune, the Myth of Tomorrow has now finally been reborn through the combined efforts of numerous people and returned to its original colors.

The Myth of Tomorrow, is filled with a great deal of enthusiasm and dedication, and was brought back to life through the unstinting application of highly-skilled restoration techniques.

The Myth of Tomorrow now on display in Shibuya was created by all of us after Taro and Toshiko passed on the baton.

This exhibition will focus on the process of restoration, while also looking back over the forty years of its history, from the first sketches to its installation in Shibuya. It will also present related works, such as the sketches produced for another mural, Myth of Fertility, that was planned to be housed in the same hotel, thereby tracing the entire story of the Myth of Tomorrow.

 
   
 
 
‘Taro Okamoto’s “Characters at Play”’

Exhibition Period:
December 3, 2008 - February 22, 2009

‘Basically, writing and painting are the same thing. Even without tracing the origins and transformations of pictographs, unconscious play with writing will naturally result in the creation of a painting. The result is ‘characters at play’. The joy of life springs up within it. It is truly art.’ Taro Okamoto

Taro Okamoto produced a huge quantity of calligraphy. It was quite unique, part picture, part painting, and demonstrated the true value of Okamoto’s art. It can certainly be considered one of the representative genres of Okamoto’s art.

Taro’s attitude towards writing was one of ‘play’. That is why he called it called ‘characters at play’.

This exhibition is the first time that the original artwork for his 1981 book Asobu Ji (Characters at Play) has been shown. We hope that you will come and experience this world of Taro Okamoto’s play, that differs from that of his paintings and sculpture.

From January 14, 2009 (Wednesday) we will also be presenting new work by Junpei Ueda, winner of the ‘Toshiko Okamoto Prize’ in the 11th Okamoto Taro Memorial Award for Contemporary Art and we hope that you enjoy this too.

 
   
 
 
‘The Hands of Taro Okamoto’

Exhibition Period:
September 3, 2008 - November 30, 2008

‘I want to be able to comprehend the world through these eyes. To look with my eyes and touch with my hands.
I will penetrate everything violently and hurl myself into it.
I want to grasp a broad and positive image of humanity with my whole body.’

Taro Okamoto produced lots of works using the motif of the ‘hand’.
Not restricted to painting, but also sculpture, furniture, products…he repeatedly depicted hands in a variety of expressional fields.
For Taro, the hand, together with the ‘eye’, was an important tool through which to perceive the world, perhaps it was a window that connected the world to himself.
He trusted the sensations of his hand, and treasured them.

‘Absolute beauty, consisting simply of lines and color to create a purely visual painting is barren.
We need something ‘palpable’, something with a feeling of reality to collide with objectively in our daily lives.’

In this exhibition we will present an overview of his works that use hands, feet or eyes as their motif.
We hope that you will be able to share Taro’s sensitivity that made him wish to comprehend the world.

 
   
 
 
10th Anniversary of the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum
‘“Tower of the Sun” ― Gambling on the World Expo’

Exhibition Period:
April 23, 2008 - August 31, 2008

In order to celebrate its 10th Anniversary, the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum will present the Tower of the Sun ― Gambling on the World Expo’ exhibition. The Tower of the Sun, the monument which symbolized Japan’s 1970 World Expo, housed an exhibition on the theme of ‘Progress and Harmony for Mankind’ that was Taro Okamoto’s greatest sculpture. At this Exposition, in which the world’s leading architects competed to create the most modernist designs for their pavilions, Taro announced that he was going to ‘produce something outlandish’, the result being this tower that surpassed race, nationality and language to become a ‘festival’ of mankind. The interior contained a work entitled Tree of Life, which traced the evolution of life, the exhibits being divided into past, present and future, demonstrating that ever since life first appeared on Earth, its basic energy burst up through the present and into the future, offering a eulogy to life, on a vast scale. It can be said that its forms and visual display summed up Taro Okamoto’s artistic ideology and philosophy.

In addition to screening a contemporary film of the Expo that presents a comprehensive view of the Tower of the Sun, this exhibition will also show a documentary featuring recently discovered early sketches together with Taro Okamoto’s comments on the subject. Please experience for yourself Okamoto’s own thoughts as he devoted himself to the Expo.

 
   
 
 
‘MAYA MAXX’s Sayonara’

Open Studio: January 17-27, 2008
Exhibition Period: January 17 2008 - April 20, 2008

At long last, MAYA MAXX has finally set out on an endless journey. She has discarded everything she achieved up until now and set out afresh on a world trip, taking with her only a single cardboard box.
She is going to be MAYA MAXX until the day she dies. She will remain MAYA MAXX to the end. This is what she has undoubtedly resolved to do.

Hearing her, I felt that she resembled Taro. I recall Toshiko reminiscing with a smile, ‘Taro was not born Taro. He made his decision, prepared himself for the worst and became Taro,’.
‘It’s not my intention to create paintings that Taro would approve of. I just want to become the kind of person that Taro would not reproach,’ MAYA MAXX says.

I wanted her to confront Taro then send her out into the world from there.
She has responded to my request. This is not a ‘Solo Exhibition’. All the works to be put on exhibit will be painted here in front of our eyes.

We hope that you will come and experience MAYA MAXX’s spirit. We invite you to be attend a special moment that will never be repeated.

Let’s all drink to MAYA MAXX!

 
   
 
 
‘Transparent Anger’ November 7, 2007 - January 14, 2008

Taro Okamoto was generally cheerful and humorous, but the moment he discovered some essential distortion in an object or the ugliness of the people who produce this, he lost his temper and expressing his anger in various ways, turned it on society. A lot of his works and writings, such as the famous calligraphy piece, Don’t Kill or his Myth of Tomorrow, use anger as their motif.

However, Taro Okamoto’s ‘anger’ did not always confront the viewer with a terrible appearance. For instance, in his Myth of Tomorrow he depicts a proud image of humanity that goes beyond tragedy, while roaring with laughter, demonstrating that he stands in a dimension that exists far above simple exacerbation or personal grievance.

‘Transparent Anger’. This is perhaps the best way to describe Taro’s anger.

The emotion of anger stems from the collision of humanity’s innately rich sensitivity, but in the present day, which appears to be losing its clarity, Taro’s anger provides us food for thought. I would like to share Taro’s ‘transparent anger’ with you all.

This exhibition will also include a new work by Shunsaku Hishikari, the winner of the ‘Toshiko Okamoto Prize’ in the 10th Okamoto Taro Memorial Award for Contemporary Art, on the theme of ‘a collaboration with Taro’. We hope that you will enjoy it.

 
   
 
 
‘“Lightning Bolt” and that Period’ August 1, 2007 - November 4, 2007

When we were tidying the studio in November last year, we suddenly came across the work Lightning Bolt. It was lying at the back of a shelf, wrapped in an unused canvas. It was painted in 1947 but until now only a single, faded, picture postcard had remained to indicate the existence of this obscure work.

1947 was the year that Taro set up the studio in Kaminoge where he was finally able to get back to painting after being demobilized from the army and returning from China. Upon his return from Paris before the war, he had announced that ‘the stone-age of art is finished’, but it was not until this memorable year that he was able to begin his struggle to overcome the stereotypes and authoritarianism of postwar Japan.

Lightning Bolt, together with Melancholy and Night, is one of the most important works from Okamoto’s early period and is the first work he painted after having decided to make his mark in Japan after the war. Restoration on the work is finally complete and people can now see it as it was when it was first produced.

This exhibition will also show a sketch of a young woman that was discovered at the same time as Lightning Bolt. There is no indication of the model’s name, a title or when it was produced, but there can be no doubt that it is of Toshiko Okamoto in her youth. It was probably drawn at the Kaminoge studio at approximately the same time he produced Lightning Bolt.

With the exception of death masks and a small number of paintings he produced whilst serving in the army, Taro never produced realistic pictures of people so this sketch obviously possessed some special meaning for him. It may allow you to discover a new image of Taro.

We hope that you will come and enjoy ‘Lightning Bolt and that Period’ which represents a second beginning in Okamoto’s art.

 
   
 
 
‘Katsuki Tanaka’s Taro Beam!’ April 26, 2007 - July 29, 2007

As the final guest curator in this series, we have chosen the man who knows Taro and Toshiko the best, Yuji Yamashita. The leading art historian in Japan today and the author of Okamoto Taro sengen (Declaration of Becoming Taro Okamoto), which caused a sensation when it was first published; he presents a collaboration between, Katsuki Tanaka, an aloof artist and possessor of unique aesthetics that he utilizes to pioneer a new world of expression, and Taro. The result can truly be described as being a collaborative work between Taro and Katsuki.
We hope that you will enjoy this unprecedented, adventurous experiment.

 
   
 
 
‘Searching for an Invisible Horizon’ January 27, 2007 - April 22, 2007日

For the second in our guest curator series, we have invited Koichi Watari, curator of the Watari-Um Museum, an institution that continuously introduces new trends in the contemporary art world. For this exhibition, he has selected a young artist named Zon Ito to challenge Taro. This will be the first time that an artist other than Taro has been featured in the Memorial Museum. We hope that you will look forward to seeing the world that appears as a result of this experiment.

 
   
 
 
‘To the Unknown Taro Within Taro’ October 18, 2006 - January 21, 2007

For the upcoming guest curator series of exhibitions we have chosen three people most suited to discussing Taro Okamoto to come and curate an exhibition, allowing them to play freely with Taro. The first curator in this series will be Noi Sawaragi, one of the country’s leading art critics.
Entitled ‘To the Unknown Taro Within Taro’, this project overflows with creative stimuli. Please come and enjoy this ‘new Taro’ that nobody has ever seen before.
We hope that you will like the renewed Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum that has changed from ‘the place where Toshiko talks about Taro’ to ‘the place where everybody can talk about Taro.’

 
   
 
 
‘The Road to the Restoration of “Myth of Tomorrow”’ July 6, 2006 - October 15, 2006
Through the enthusiastic support of numerous people, the restoration of the Myth of Tomorrow is finally complete. Taro Okamoto’s powerful message has surpassed time and space to come to us today. Timed to coincide with the public display of the mural at Shiodome, this exhibition will show the process by which the foundation set about the restoration of the Myth of Tomorrow. Featuring materials actually used in the restoration, it will give an insider’s view of the entire project, from the mural’s dismantling in Mexico to its restoration in Ehime Prefecture. We hope that you will come and enjoy this overview of the restoration of Myth of Tomorrow into which Toshiko Okamoto poured her enthusiasm as her ‘final mission in life.’  
  『『 明日の神話 』再生への道』 展  
 
 
‘The Graphics of Taro Okamoto’ April 5, 2006 - July 3, 2006
One facet of Taro Okamoto’s world of expression was graphic design. Posters, playing cards, long-sleeved kimono, clocks, neckties, tapestries…Taro gave life to every kind of object, no matter what, his designs ranging from airships to matchboxes. Although it is not widely known, Taro even designed the logo of the now-defunct Kintetsu Buffaloes baseball team. We have named this exhibition ‘The Graphics of Taro Okamoto’ and through it we will provide a general view of Taro’s graphic art. We hope you will enjoy this slightly different aspect of the artist, Taro Okamoto.  
  『岡本太郎のグラフィック』 展  
 
 
‘A Message from Toshiko Okamoto - 2’ January 5, 2006 - April 3, 2006
‘A Message from Toshiko Okamoto - 1’ October 5, 2005 - December 26, 2005
In 1998 this place where Taro and Toshiko Okamoto lived and fought together, was opened to the general public by Toshiko Okamoto as the Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum. While retaining the studio and salon as they were in Taro’s day, 30 exhibitions have been held in the special exhibition gallery over the last seven years.
30 special exhibitions…representing 30 different times that Toshiko has looked at Taro. This exhibition will look back over the 30 special exhibitions that have been held in the Memorial Museum to recapitulate on Toshiko’s concepts and the works that were presented, in order to experience once more Toshiko’s gaze and message.
We hope that you will enjoy the various doorways Toshiko has presented through which we can approach the multifaceted being that was Taro Okamoto.
 
  『岡本太郎のグラフィック』 展  
 
 
‘Toshiko Okamoto’s Sixty Years’ July 9, 2005 - October 3, 2005
The former director of this museum, Toshiko Okamoto died on April 20 this year. It was sudden, but fitting end.
‘I ran with Taro Okamoto for fifty years. I never had time to wonder if I was being myself or question the purpose of my life. I lived fully and to the limit. To the extreme.’
True to her word, she ran together with Taro for 50 years, and after that she continued to run for his sake for another 10 years. This exhibition will look back at her life over the last 60 years and serve as a memorial to her.
We will display the messages that were presented to the ‘Talking with Toshiko Okamoto Plaza’ that was held recently in place of a normal funeral. Why not come and meet a smiling Toshiko.
 
  岡本敏子の60年  
 
 
‘Transparent Reality’ April 6, 2005 - July 4, 2005
Not many people know that Taro Okamoto produced such lifelike work. During the fierce battle to survive as avant-garde artist during the postwar years, he did not have the chance to display this side of his character, and he does not appear to have felt any nostalgia for it. However, when he was drinking, he would often draw people’s faces for fun, and the skill he displayed with his pen strokes is astounding. With sharp, delicate lines, he grasped the essence of his subject in an instant, sometimes producing a picture that was more typical of the subject than the actual person; he had an amazingly sharp eye.
A lot of the drawings exhibited here belong to that category. They were not produced for exhibition or to be shown to people. However, he does not skimp at all. Taro Okamoto’s work was basically refined elegant. The gentleness in his gaze as he looked at the sleeping soldier, the feeling of transparency. His intense abstract works are incredible, but I cannot help but wish he had shown us more of this kind of work.
 
 
‘Myth of Tomorrow’ January 5, 2005 - April 4, 2005
‘I name the mural I painted for the Hotel de Mexico “Myth of Tomorrow”. It is a picture with burning skeletons in the center. Everybody is moved by it. Not a single person has said that the burning skeletons are ill-omened or that they felt repulsed. It was because it was done in Mexico that I was able to paint a picture like this. It made me realize keenly the depth of the cultural climate of the country.’
 
 
‘Melancholy’ October 6, 2004 - December 27, 2004

It is said that you can learn all there is to know about a person from their maiden work. Produced when he was 22 years old, Space can probably be described as being Taro Okamoto’s maiden work and in it we can perceive a condensing of the lyrical melancholy of youth. The first work he created after the war, Melancholy bore the following poem:

My barren heart flutters,
Like a banner, a symbol of my grief.
From my right temple to my left,
One banner after another…

After this work he began boldly challenging society, preaching the principle of polar opposites. There is a strong image of him as being an audacious, intense warrior but underlying this there existed a delicate sorrow, a gentle innocence of character that provides the basic tone of his work. this can be discerned here too.

 
 
‘Polar Opposites’ July 7, 2004 - October 4, 2004
‘Polar Opposites’ is the artistic theory behind Taro Okamoto’s work, and it reflects his way of life.
‘Being torn between two poles.’ This was the vivid impression that Taro developed in his youth, causing him great mortification and despair.
However, he later overcame this by consciously sundering his being further, developing this into a methodology that can be applied to any situation in his life.
Taro Okamoto changed into his polar opposite.
 
 
‘Premonition’ April 7, 2004 - July 5, 2004
There are many people who believe premonitions to be vague, formless emotions. However, Taro Okamoto’s premonitions possessed a clear shape. They were lyrically colored, but the drama they contain is described in a language belonging to a different dimension that has never emerged.
Looking wide-eyed, Taro absorbed this into his body.
The thrill of premonition. Come, feel it for yourself, we want you to take up the challenge with him.
 
 
Photographic Exhibition: ‘Mysterious’ January 5, 2004 - April 5, 2004
Taro Okamoto’s photographs do not merely capture subjects that can be seen with the eye. They penetrate the true essence of phenomena to the deep origins of existence.
He possessed a shamanistic nature.
He was able to perceive a sense of mystery in common objects that made him shudder.
Masatoshi Naito is a scholar of ethnology, a man of religion who underwent training as a mountain aesthetic and also an accomplished photographer. He was captivated by Taro Okamoto’s photographs and asked to be allowed to print the negatives, locking himself away in the darkroom as he relived the moments that Taro had released the shutter on his camera, forgetting even to eat or sleep.
It is a rare collaboration, an event that will live on in photographic history.
 
 
‘Sad Animals’ October 1, 2003 - December 27, 2003
 
Why do the eyes of animals appear so sad? They are strong but innocent, their sharp eyes the same as Taro Okamoto’s. Sorrowful. Lonely. Yet gallant, noble and full of life. All living things are sad.
 
 
‘Couples’ July 2, 2003 - September 29, 2003
Taro Okamoto once said, ‘The world perceived by women differs to that of men’. They both look at the world from completely different viewpoints. It is this difference that attracts them to each other and makes them as one. Laying aside the hermaphrodites of the distant past, all creatures are divided into male and female, becoming diverse, complicated and full of implications.
The world of ‘couples’ portrayed by Taro Okamoto is intense and dramatic. Filled with the tension of challenge. And overflowing with an extreme eroticism.
 
 
‘Sketches for Murals 2’ April 2, 2003 - June 30, 2003
Unusually for a Japanese, Taro Okamoto’s spatial sense was extremely highly-developed. Whether he was working on a mural or a monument, the image he possessed was not limited to the work. He would consider the overall impression of the space in which it was to stand. The esquisses he drew were flat, but they served as little more than blueprints. As you look at these, one by one, you should try and imagine the scenery opening up around them; it offers a marvelous chance to test your imagination.
 
 
‘Play Writing 2’ January 5, 2003 - March 31, 2003
‘To draw a black line on a sheet of pure white paper. This act contains the fresh vitality of the human life force. Primeval energy is the power emitted by chaos.
Calligraphy provides a joy that differs to that of painting pictures. That is why I often use a writing brush. Characters that could be both writing and painting begin to dance on the paper.
Being pictographs they are sure to have meaning. However, they are not symbols in the conventional sense, with a determined form and accepted meaning. They are a direct coupling of content and shape, giving rise to inspiration through a momentaryimpulse.
The energy that fills the universe and all creation will find fundamental release and be condensed according to the vitality of the line as it is drawn.’
 
 
‘Primeval’ October 2, 2002 - December 27, 2002
Primeval energy is the power emitted by chaos.
Taro Okamoto was the possessor of clear logic, but deep inside his body there existed this chaos. He was a shaman in tune with a holy mystery.
These paintings reverberate to this primitive sound.
 
 
‘Children’s Time’ July 3, 2002 - September 30, 2002
Taro looked at the world through innocent eyes.
Deeply sympathetic. Reverberating with life.
His parents, animals, insects, friends…all of them are Taro himself, while at the same time they contain the mysterious structure of the universe. That is Taro’s world of mythology, and it is filled with unlimited abundance.
 
 
‘Anger Beautifully’ April 3, 2002 - July 1, 2002
Taro’s anger was like an exploding volcano. It did not contain personal enmity, rather it was the pure anger of humanity. It was both remarkable and refreshing. When he saw the weak of society―young people, children, women or the disabled―being rebuffed by those in power, he took their side, his anger knowing no limits. We would like you to witness his beautiful transparent wrath.
 
 
‘Young Life’ January 5, 2002 - April 1, 2002
A baby as it reaches out its plump hand to try and grasp something, balancing its heavy-looking head as it takes dangerously wobbly steps on unbelievably small feet.
Puppies, kittens, lion cubs, baby elephants and chicks…young animals are all amazing.
This is probably because their lives are open.
Taro Okamoto was that kind of person, always genuine, enthusiastic and never dishonest. He had a sharp intellect, was true to himself and ingenuous.
In this exhibition we have gathered together paintings that will allow you to contact this facet of his personality.
 
 
‘Various Types of Love’ October 3, 2001 - December 27, 2001
It is said that genius is androgyne.
Taro Okamoto’s dynamic spirit and readiness to always meet a challenge was definitely that of a man, of an ‘armed warrior’, but in reality, he had a gentle heart, delicate, kind, and easily wounded. He could almost be said to have resembled an innocent girl.
This ambivalence gave rise to various phases of love. Sometimes violently challenging, gazing into each other’s eyes, opening their hearts and blending with each other.
I thrill at the fact that all of these different aspects were Taro Okamoto.
 
 
‘Staring Contest’ July 4, 2001 - October 1, 2001
The term ‘staring contest’ sounds quite lighthearted, but for Taro Okamoto, to stare into the eyes of another was a most serious and symbolic act, an interchange life. It can be described as a sort of ceremony.
He produced many paintings like this.
Some of them are serious, some are jocular, some erotic, as life gazes into life.
The broad, deep limitless world spread out before them causes the viewer to shudder.
 
 
‘Taro Okamoto, Photographer’ April 4, 2001 - July 2, 2001
Taro Okamoto had a long history as a photographer. Man Ray, Brassai, Capa…leading photographers who are idolized by today’s professionals, were all friends of his while he was living in Paris and at some point in his career he began to use a camera himself. Apparently, he first studied under Man Ray, then later he wandered the streets with Brassai as the latter worked on his famous Paris by Night. Maybe it was due to these experiences, but his control of the camera was precise and fast. He usually never carried his camera with him, only when he was going out for research. Taro Okamoto’s eye. What Taro Okamoto saw. He confronts us straightforwardly and his powerful compositions.
 
 
‘Face 2’ January 5, 2001 - April 2, 2001
A frightening face, an artless face, a sad face...all of them are Taro Okamoto.
Artists often paint self-portraits, but there are no self-portraits of Taro Okamoto. Despite this, all these strange creatures are probably none other than Taro Okamoto himself.
We hope that you will search for your own Taro Okamoto among them all.
 
 
‘Face 1’ October 4, 2000 - December 27, 2000
The center of the face―the eyes. If you draw the eyes, they will create a face.
I think that there are many people who, when they think of Taro Okamoto’s work, conjure up an image of large eyeballs.
The bulging eyes of the red beast in Law of the Jungle, the goggling eyes of Out of Control. The innocent eye in Blue Skies that looks on in astonishment as the police stamp on it and slams it into the ground. The round eyes on the Tower of the Sun are impressive and the Chairs Refusing to Seat Anyone, all have eyes, making them into faces. He said ‘an eye is a hole linked to the universe.’
For him, they were holes that linked him directly with mystery.
 
 
Taro Okamoto’s ‘Wonderworld’ July 5, 2000 - October 2, 2000
It is not human. It is not animal.
These creatures can only be described as belonging to a ‘wonderworld’.
These curious ‘life forms’, these strange beings, the like of which you have never seen before, draw closer to us.
Is that Taro Okamoto? Or is it the image (form) of another world he is watching. ― Whichever it is, they are alive!!
 
 
‘Characters at Play’ April 5, 2000 - July 3, 2000
There is an art book entitled ‘Asobu Ji (Characters at Play). The contents consist entirely of pictographs that resemble paintings. The character for ‘raku’, meaning ‘happy’, seems to smile and really does look merry while the character for ‘e’ (painting) resembles a person holding a brush and painting a picture. They overflow with a mischievous playfulness typical of Taro Okamoto. Taro never differentiated between writing and painting as forms of expression. Japanese characters are based originally on pictures and he was capable of seeing the true shapes of the characters that existed before they became stylized to create writing. Moreover, the vivid colors seem to rise up on their own. They are simultaneously writing and painting. We hope that you will enjoy Taro Okamoto’s ‘playfulness’.
 
 
‘Original Painting for the Mural’ January 5, 2000 - April 3, 2000
There are innumerable examples murals, monuments and public art that Taro Okamoto created to be displayed in public spaces. As he said, ‘Everybody should be free to praise or criticize them without paying a penny, as if they belonged to them. It does not matter if people just pass them by without giving them a second look. That is okay. But some people will say that a picture is worth millions, reverentially storing it away out of sight without even looking at it. And they call that art?’ Art should be open and belong to everybody. This was where he focused his enthusiasm and cheerfully took up the challenge. He also had an outstanding spatial sense, allowing him to accurately grasp the overall environment of a place. As a result his works all fit in ideally with their surroundings.
Although these original paintings are small and rough, they establish a clear image of the whole space as it will be when the work is completed.
 
 
‘Taro’s Pieta’ October 6, 1999 - December 27, 1999
You may think it strange that Taro Okamoto would produce a Pieta, a picture of the body of Christ being held by his grieving mother after having been taken down from the cross. It is a common theme in European art, but I do not think I have seen many examples of one by a Japanese artist. Taro Okamoto spent his entire life facing new challenges. He realized that one day he too would reach the end of his strength and die and these pictures are an intimation of that time. Although none were ever finished, he produced numerous Pietas. Exhausted, the fight finished, the naked body, covered with wounds, was taken down by the arms and laid on the woman’s lap. This truly is an image of Taro Okamoto himself. He is dead, but he has not finished appealing his existence. The heartrending cry upon which he gambled his life, reverberates deeply and quietly in the heart of the woman he loved, oscillating through the world and the universe. It is as if he is saying ‘Who was this person? What was his fate? Look at him!’ Why did Taro draw so many Pietas? Although he drew lots, he never finished one of them. Maybe he thought he would do it sometime in the future.
 
 
‘Taro and Living Creatures’ July 7, 1999 - October 4, 1999
‘I was born Tokyo’s Aoyama 6 Chome and lived there during my childhood. In those days there were no surfaced roads in Japan and the air was always filled with the smell of earth and numerous insects flew in front of my eyes. ‘These insects were the things that I was closest to and most familiar with. In spring there were the butterflies, in summer, the cicadas, dragonflies, and fireflies then came the grasshoppers, crickets and long-horned beetles… I used to catch all kinds of insects and play with them. ‘I would look at the tiny insects moving beneath my eyes and ask myself if that was me, if I had become an insect, experiencing a fulfilling sense of confusion. ‘I still feel a fraternity with the undifferentiated life that stirs in the depths of my heart and comes rushing out.’ (Taro Okamoto)
 
 
‘Taro’s Eroticism’ April 7, 1999 - July 4, 1999
Taro’s eroticism is not a form of sweet, moody love. A woman bending backwards, a man approaching without restraint. The man himself is being ripped apart. There can be no joy without tension and pain. That is what it seems to say.
Anybody who looks at the statue, Love, will understand that it represents an image of two people lying down. It is abstract, but the man on the left is gallant, well-built and masculine. Jagged serrations thrust up into the air, like man-eating sharks, but the body is firm and gentle. The woman’s round hips, her legs slightly twisted. They are filled with a pure emotion as they snuggle together; it is both charming and erotic, a sensual image of a man and woman.
However, when he created this Taro was naive, yet, aggressive, like a mischievous boy playing in the mud. His face and body were covered in plaster as he worked with hammer and chisel, single-mindedly devoting himself to the challenge.
As he worked, he would say, ‘Women are women, men are men.’
 
 
‘TARO’s Mother and Child’ January 6, 1999 - April 4, 1999
Taro Okamoto―Mother, people immediately think of Kanoko Okamoto and it is a fact that his mother, Kanoko, was a big influence in the making of Taro Okamoto, the artist. Intense, pure, devoted. Mother and child resembled each other closely.
He produced numerous works entitled Mother and Child and it is likely that he was not necessarily thinking of Kanoko when he created them. The two people portrayed here share an impetuous, tense relationship, their lives pulling intensely at each other, it is believed that these works depict the awesomeness of the fundamental female image represented by his ‘mother’, who confronted his whole existence.
 
 
‘TARO’s Festival’ October 7, 1998 - December 27, 1998

The original paintings of playing cards shown in this exhibition will probably come as a surprise to those of you for whom the name Taro Okamoto conjures up an image of large-scale, intense, dynamic works. In 1977 a specialist Belgian playing card company wanted to produce some original, artistic cards and Taro was commissioned to create hand-drawn designs for the kings, queens, jacks and aces for the four suites as well as two jokers, a total of eighteen cards in all.
He took great delight in designing the letters ‘J’, ‘Q’, ‘K’, etc. for the cards applying them carefully. He particularly liked the cute, coquettish women designs he created for the queens and aces.

We hope that you will enjoy Taro Okamoto’s playfulness.

 
 
‘Taro’s Sun 2’ August 19, 1998 - October 4, 1998

The eleven ceramic wall designs that were produced to decorate the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in 1956 disappeared when the building was demolished.
In this exhibition we will present the original large-scale sketches for this work as well as the actual-size plaster molds.
Looking at these molds that Taro carved from the solid plaster, determined to meet the challenge presented by this masterpiece of architecture designed by Kenzo Tange, we can feel his vigor as he worked with the image of the vast two-story space in his mind.
We hope that you will think back to this lost masterpiece.

 
 
‘Taro’s Sun’ July 1, 1998 - August 16, 1998

The studio, guest room and garden all remain exactly as they were in Taro’s day, retaining so much of Taro Okamoto’s power that you almost expect him to appear at any moment.

 
 
‘Meeting Taro’ May 7 - June 28, 1998

Care has been taken to preserve the studio, guest room and garden just as they were when Taro Okamoto was still alive. We hope that you will be able to meet Taro in this explosive space, filled with his energy, together with artistic furniture and a forest of molds for his sculptures and monuments.

 
 
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