| March 1st, 2012, 4:02 PM

I just got back from a great two-week trip to Japan, sponsored by the Japan Foundation. Along with eleven other contemporary art curators working in the US, we traveled to Tokyo, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Osaka, Naoshima, Takamatsu, and then back to Tokyo. After an all-too-brief trip to Yokohama this past October, I felt very lucky to have two weeks in Japan. Read more “after the jump,” as they say…

I met many, many people. (Below is documentation of the the official business card exchange.) I have lots of follow-up emails to write…

In this post I’ve included some pictures from Tokyo. There was a constant stream of visual stimuli: We saw an incredible Atsuko Tanaka exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (the early work and the sound piece were especially affecting).  This was the exhibition highlight of the trip. Another highlight was seeing a major Jackson Pollock painting on loan from Tehran in a Pollock retrospective at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Sadly, we won’t be seeing it stateside any time soon. It was also quite interesting to see this show in Japan, both in terms of Abstract Expressionism’s relationship to the Gutai group, and thinking about the artist’s paint handling in the context of a culture so attuned to calligraphy, quality of line, and behavior of liquid media (not to mention Japan’s radically different post-WWII cultural experience).

Not everything was high art—we took in a considerable amount of the low variety, like the great 100 Yen Shops, pictured. (I’ll also write later about our fascinating trip to the Kyoto International Manga Museum.)

Sanity was restored at the immensely calming and intelligent home/studio of Atelier Bow-Wow. Each surface material, cut-through vista, and small industrial detail was perfectly warm and well conceived. We spent a wonderful morning there talking with co-founder Yoshiharu Tsukamoto.

Another Tokyo highlight was a visit to Yayoi Kusama’s studio. She shared stories of New York in the 1960s, and painted throughout our conversation. The only photo I got was of a little detail from her library.

I saw many good things in Japan, and had many wonderful conversations with curators there. Special thanks to curators Shihoko Iida and Mizuki Takahashi for their particularly insightful conversations about Japanese contemporary art and culture.

More posts soon about Kyoto, Kanazawa, and Naoshima soon…