The Tolman Collection: Art in the Heart of Minato-ku


As the Tolman Collection prepares to enter its 40th year in the art world, they are showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

With galleries in Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong, and London, art collector Norman Tolman stands as a prominent figure in the art world, particularly in the field of Japanese painting, prints, and porcelain. But he began his career in the art world in the 1970s, opening a first, small gallery that was open by appointment in a large, traditional Japanese house in Suginami Ward. A major break came when he started representing the work of the famed painter and printmaker Toko Shinoda. Now, Tolman represents and carries the work of a wide range of painters, sculptors, and printmakers at his gallery locations around the world.

Toko Shinoda, Determination. 2013, 62.5 x 194
Toko Shinoda, Determination. 2013, 62.5 x 194

Four of Tolman’s most celebrated artists—Shinoda, Mori Yoshitoshi, Daniel Kelly, and Hamanishi Katsunori—are in the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum, but because his galleries also represent dozens of other sculptors, painters, and printmakers, art lovers and collectors of all budgets and backgrounds have the chance to buy unique pieces that will suit their lifestyles and living spaces.

The Tolman (Private) Collection at Atago jinja mae specializes in Imari ware pottery
The Tolman (Private) Collection at Atago jinja mae specializes in Imari ware pottery

Because it can be a challenge to figure out exactly what to buy, particularly for inexperienced collectors, Tolman encourages people to follow their interests without worrying too much about the “right” way to do things. He explains that, over the years, he has worked with countless collectors—particularly those of prints—whose personal tastes vary broadly: “Art is basically not a group thing; everyone has his own taste, his own likes and dislikes. With prints the choices are seemingly unlimited and it is fun to be able to show what kind of a person you are by your collection. Some people try to get one print by every artist to show how clever they are at forming a real ‘Collection.’ Others focus early and only buy works featuring a single subject. Others only seek works by a single artist and get as many of that artist’s works as they can. Still others only want a certain color, and there are some who want prints to illustrate the story of their time in Japan. We even have collectors who only favor those prints with cats in them! Really! It just doesn’t end. It becomes a challenge to keep one’s collection different and special.”

To provide would-be collectors with one more set of options, the Tolman Gallery in Tokyo (Shiba Daimon) will be showing the original paintings and limited-edition prints of Imamura Yoshio, a Nagano Prefecture–based artist whose international appeal makes him “as popular in Australia as he is in Tokyo.” This exhibition will be on display from Saturday, November 8 until the end of the month. You can also find a wide variety of antique Imari porcelain at the Tolman private gallery in Atago Jinja Mae.

For more information about the Tolman Collection, as well as the artists the galleries represent, please visit

View Comments


© 2018 - 2019 Tokyo Weekender
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Powered by ENGAWA K.K.