The good thing about this exhibition – centering on Japanese painting from the 18th and early 19th centuries – is that it reflects art that was collected without an agenda. Most of the works on display come from the collection of Joe Price, an American collector who started collecting over 50 years ago. Rather than reading up on the subject or consulting 'art experts,' he merely bought whatever appealed to his visual sense.
In Joe's case this was not the wabi sabi or dull Zen stuff that was creeping into artistic respectability even back in the fifties, but rather the livelier, plebian art of Itoh Jakucha (1716–1800) and other Kansai painters. These brightly decorated works, like Jakucha's astounding pictures of gamecocks, were snubbed by art cognoscenti until relatively recently. This exhibition presents 101 works chosen jointly by Joe and the museum from more than 600 works in his collection.
Runs to August 27, Tokyo National Museum