In the canon of both Japanese and Western art, the idealized female figure features prominently: Mona Lisa, the Aphrodite of Knidos, the Venus of Urbino, and of course the binjinga of the Edo period. This exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, subverts the narrative to center images of “beautiful men” or binan. While images of men have been examined in light of a period’s social conditions, trends and attitudes towards masculinity, they are rarely considered “beautiful” or “pretty” subjects. The exhibition spans from the Meiji era to present day.
Image: Ryoko Kimura, Men’s Paradise Folding Screen (Binan Rakuenzu Byōbu) (Right Side), 2011, Photo by Kei Miyajima