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No.026 Bringing modern Japanese art to the eyes of the world
Mr. Ryutaro Takahashi, psychiatrist and collector
“Neoteny Japan - Takahashi Collection” is an exhibition of works by 33 young Japanese artists selected from psychiatrist Mr. Ryutaro Takahashi’s collection of more than 1,000 works of art collected over a 10-year period. The exhibition has been a great success over a number of days. We asked Mr. Takahashi to give us an outline of the exhibition, and tell us about his art going forward.

Tenmyouya Hisashi “Neo Thousand Armed Kannon” 2002
Tenmyouya Hisashi “Neo Thousand Armed Kannon” 2002

A sweeping overview of Japanese art from the 1990s through the 2000s

I collect modern art works, but “contemporary art” refers to the process by which artists digest the history of art and subject it to critical analysis in order to come up with new works of their own. The works will depend on whether the individual has talent, but I believe that it is through this process of digesting the history of art that contemporary art takes its form. This exhibition, “Neoteny Japan – Takahashi Collection” constitutes a sweeping overview of modern Japanese art from the 1990s through the 2000s, a period never before presented; in fact, the exhibition is a cross-section of one age of Japanese art. I think that this is an exhibition that communicates to the world “This is modern Japanese art,” and the idea that it would be shown at art galleries overseas too in the future was something I always kept in mind.

Makoto Aida “A Picture of an Air Raid on New York City (War Pictures Returns)” 1996
Makoto Aida “A Picture of an Air Raid on New York City (War Pictures Returns)” 1996

Tokyo—a city which could create the world’s biggest art award

In Japan there are many curators who have currency worldwide, such as Ms. Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and Mr. Yusuke Minami, curator of the National Art Center, Tokyo. Although a “neoteny,” Japan has gained its strengths. I think it would be great if Tokyo Metropolitan Government were to hold the world’s biggest art award, if the budget to support art were there (laughs). Japan’s top-quality curators could plan it, and leading critics from all over the world could be assembled here as judges. One of the keywords would be “Bigger than the Turner Prize.” That could surely focus attention on Japanese art. In this way, friendly competition would develop between artists, resulting in a livelier and more natural art scene, and the creation of sound art systems. Art is the only thing which reaches across all boundaries of nations and religions. Such an event could become something to rival the Olympic Games. I believe that if our politicians were to focus more on art, Japan would change a great deal (laughs).


Manabu Ikeda “History of Rise and Fall” 2006
Manabu Ikeda “History of Rise and Fall” 2006

■Exhibition public homepage

Courtesy the artist and Mizuma Art Gallery

Ryutaro Takahashi Ryutaro Takahashi

Mr. Takahashi was born in 1946, and works as a psychiatrist. After graduating from the Faculty of Medicine, Toho University, he entered the Department of Neuropsychiatry, Keio University. In 1990, having had experiences including being dispatched to Peru as a medical specialist in the Japan Information Cooperation Agency (JICA), he opened Takahashi Clinic in the role of clinic director. In 2004, he opened the Takahashi Collection, an art space where his collection is made open to the public, in Kagurazaka. In 2008, he opened a new art space in Shirogane, which was expanded and relocated to Hibiya in April 2009.

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