These early summer selections offer a variety of compilations: modern European minimalism, emerging contemporary artists, and the life’s work of a revolutionary Japanese photographer. Broaden your artistic understanding and expand your mind with any of these three overviews.

By Sarah Custen

“Simple Forms: Contemplating Beauty”


Carsten Nicolai, “anti” (2004).  Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Main, 2005 Photo: Uwe Walter. Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin / Leipzig and The Pace Gallery

Japan is well known for its Zen paintings, simply styled ceremonies and exquisite minimalism. The European aesthetic, on the other hand, calls to mind grandeur and detail, ornate cathedrals and intricate religious paintings. But the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe were marked by a shift towards simplicity, across the spectrum from mathematics and mechanical engineering to archeology and architecture. Nowhere is this more starkly apparent than in the graceful, streamlined art from that time. Artists of the era were drawn to “simple forms” in nature and traditional folk culture and sought to replicate their clean lines and sleek style.

“Simple Forms” brings together 130 famous works of modern art from around the world, spanning centuries in a panoramic view of elegant minimalism. Presented in nine sections, the exhibition explores the geographic spread of this artistic style, connecting prehistoric artifacts with modern-day installations and innovations. This is your chance to experience an “Eastern aesthetic” through a Western lens, with works from Gabriel Orozco, Henry Moore, and Jean Arp—among many others—in the first joint exhibition of Mori Art Museum, Centre Pompidou-Metz and Fondation d’enterprise Hermès.

“Simple Forms: Contemplating Beauty”
Mori Art Museum (MAM)
April 25–July 5, 2015
Open Wednesday through Monday, 10:00–22:00; Tuesdays 10:00–17:00

“Tokyo Wonder Wall 2015”

Tokyo Wonder Wall is about creativity, youth, imagination and opportunity. For 15 years, the exhibition has transformed the Metropolitan Government Building’s walls into a space for expression and exploration, presenting works from young artists. Last year’s show featured almost 100 works of painting, sculpture, video and installation chosen from over 800 entries. Fourteen prizewinners were chosen to have their works specially exhibited in the Government building, “giving visitors fresh stimulus and emotion,” according to MoT PR representation.


‘Tokyo Wonder Wall 2014’ exhibition scene, 2014

Select artists are invited to display their works as part of the Tokyo Wonder Site, an art center with locations in Shibuya, Hongo, and throughout Tokyo, “dedicated to the promotion of new art and culture,” according to their website. MoT exhibits a showcase of vital works from these emerging artists, nurturing and inspiring a bright future.

“Tokyo Wonder Wall 2015”
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT)
June 6—June 28, 2015
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 – 18:00; closed Mondays

“Teiko Shiotani: Pioneer of Artistic Photography in Japan”

To say that Teiko Shiotani’s photos are “artistic” is a bit vague. A better description might be to say that they seem more like art—non-photographic art. His images are rich and thick, like ink paintings on parchment, soaking deep into time, transporting you to a vivid, vibrant past with sepia tones, simple lines, and stark shadows.

Shiotani was born and raised in Tottori Prefecture; his life’s work was photographing the region. A natural, Shiotani received his first camera in grade school and by age 27 had founded a photographic society and won first prize in a competition by the Asahi Camera magazine. From there he went on to win more prizes and gain notoriety, both in Japan and overseas.

By the time of his death in 1988, Shiotani’s photos had been displayed worldwide, garnering him a lifetime achievement award from the Photographic Society of Japan. His works are housed in institutions everywhere from Santa Fe to Shimane, from Hamburg to Yokohama, and now—for free—at FUJIFILM square. Simply an unmissable opportunity.


“Lotus” (1935)

“Teiko Shiotani: Pioneer of Artistic Photography in Japan”
Photo History Museum, FUJIFILM SQUARE
May 1–July 31, 2015
Open 10:00–19:00, every day

Main Image: “Installation view: ‘Simple Forms: Contemplating Beauty’ (April 25–July 5, 2015),” Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. Photo: Furukawa Yuya