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Art Tower Mito's "IS THIS ART?" Exhibition, planned in conjunction with the Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art and the Toyota City Museum of Art, will be held for more than three months, from December 19 to March 22.

The exhibition has enjoyed the collaboration of Amelia Arenas, former head of educational activities at the New York Modern Museum of Art (MOMA). Having worked at the actual locus of art education for many years, Ms. Arenas has conveyed "art" to many people.

The current exhibition has emphasized how we, as the viewers, can communicate directly with works of art, without being bound by artistic knowledge. To that end, it has devised several "tricks" enabling us to really experience art as they owe it.

The exhibition site has been divided into five sections, giving precedence to such specific elements as image, color, shape, and object -- things shared by all of us as we look at the works of art -- rather than basing the arrangement on the flow or knowledge of art history. The main purpose of the exhibition is to force us into an awareness of what we are currently seeing and feeling, giving us the experience of tracing our own stream of feelings and thoughts.

In other words, the exhibition can be described as an "exhibition-like workshop" that enables us to experience the process of art appreciation. For that reason, no captions have been appended to the works. Instead, without relying on such traditional crutches as the title or artist, we are encouraged to come face-to-face with the works as we stand before them.

Gallery talks will also be held frequently at various times throughout the exhibition to enhance our experience of the "workshop" and our involvement in the process of art appreciation. Through listening to other people's opinions and impressions, we can confirm our own feelings about the works of art, the process of which can be very enjoyable and exciting experience. Viewing the exhibition will provide an opportunity to "meet" oneself enjoying the act of viewing.

In addition to those gallery talks, which are aimed at the general viewer, an art appreciation education program is in the works by which teachers and students will discuss the exhibition beforehand at school. The purpose of the program is to enrich the dialogue that takes place at the exhibition site (i.e., the gallery) itself.

At the "Is This Art?" exhibition, a total of 40 works will be displayed -- from 1907 to 1998 -- encompassing the multifaceted variety represented by artistic expression in the 20th century. The hope of the exhibition planners is to make us realize that, through our experience of that freedom and variety of expression, we can indeed find our own answer to the question, "Why is this art?", and get a taste of how to enjoy art.

Details about ATM Contemporary Art Gallery Exhibition:
Venue: ATM Contemporary Art Gallery
Period: Dec. 19 (Sat), 1998 to Mar. 22 (Mon., Vernal Equinox holiday), 1999
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (no admission past 6:00 p.m.)
Closed: Mondays (except for Mar. 22), and New Year's holiday (Dec. 28 to Jan. 4)
¥800 General
¥600 Advance-purchase tickets, groups (20 or more)
¥1,000 H.T.P.
(one-year High Teen Pass for 15- to 19-year-olds, available at ATM and JR East)
Free Students (through 9th grade), senior citizens (65 and older), and handicapped persons
Tickets: Available at JR East ticket counters (Midori-no-madoguchi), View Plaza, Art Tower Mito Ticket Counter

Flow of Exhibition

1. Art -- Looking at It, Making It

The first section, which acts as the introduction, exhibits the works of various artists who experimented with new forms of expression -- the impressionists of the beginning of the century, through to the video installations of the end. The appreciation of modern art, this section teaches us, requires both a change in the way we think about things as well as a perspective that stresses the importance of our own feelings.

Claude Monet
Water Lilies
Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art

2. Formlessness

Exhibited together here are works of abstract art -- so sloppy that we might think we could draw something just as easily ourselves -- as well as photographs and calligraphy. Even works whose form seems incoherent form at first glance, we experience here, are the result of careful preparations by the artist.

Wassily Kandinsky
Study for "Panel for Edwin R. Campbell, No. 4 (Carnival, Winter)"
Miyagi Prefectural Museum of Art

3. The Exact Image

Here are displayed works of arts whose form is geometrical and well-defined. Through the comparison of flat and three-dimensional geometric works of art -- which look the same from the front -- we experience the difference in expression between the two.

Kasimir Malevich
Suprématisme (Plan disparaissant)
Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art

4. The Thing as the Idea

When things used everyday for a certain function are reassembled as materials in art works, many different kinds of expression become possible. In this section we experience the fun and mystery of the act of expression that removes things from their everyday context and imparts new meaning to them.

Joseph Beuys
Jockey Cap
Toyota City Museum of Art
©BILD-KUNST, Bonn & SPDA, Tokyo, 1998

5. The Body -- Inside/Outside

This section focuses on works based on the theme of the body, beginning with human-form sculptures. It enables us to experience the multiplicity of expressions afforded by the way an object is interpreted and viewed.

Helen Chadwick
The Helen Chadwick Estate
Photograph by Edward Woodman
Copyright©Helen Chadwick/The Helen Chadwick Estate


In her work, "The Blind" Sophie Calle demonstrated that imagination, not the ability to see, enables us to produce the world of beauty. This final section of the exhibition allows us to feel for ourselves the way in which viewing works of art leads to us to certain experiences and encounters.

Related Events

1. Special Gallery Talk

Please click the images for the video files.

Amelia Arenas, former head of educational activities at New York's MOMA, and the person responsible for the basic concept of the "Is This Art?" exhibition, will engage participants in a dialogue about how to enjoy and appreciate 20th century art.

Dec. 20 (Sun) 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 3:00-4:30 p.m. (two sessions)
Contemporary Art Gallery
¥1,000 (includes entrance fee to the exhibition)

Thirty participants will be allowed to attend each of Ms. Arenas's talks. Reservations are currently being taken; please call (029) 225-3555 between 9:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. When the quota of 30 people for each session has been reached, no more reservations will be taken.

An interpreter will be provided at Ms. Arenas' gallery talks for those not speaking English. Those with permission to attend should meet beforehand at the gallery entrance.

Please click the image for the video file.
2. Yasumasa Morimura's Contemporary Art Lecture (3rd Citizens' Lecture)

Yasumasa Morimura, one of the artists represented in the "Is This Art?" exhibition, will deliver an easily understood lecture on the fascination of modern art.

Jan. 23 (Sat) 2:00-3:30 p.m. (seating starts at 1:30 p.m.)
ATM Conference Hall
¥500 (free for Tomo-no-kai members)

Please call (029) 225-3555 between 9:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for reservations, which are currently being taken. Up to 80 people will be accepted; when that number has been reached, no more reservations will be taken.

3. Delicious Chocolate Talk -- Valentine's Day Special
(special project for high schoolers' week)

One of the works displayed in the "Is This Art?" exhibition is made of chocolate. The aim of this talk is to use the topic of chocolate to introduce listeners to cultural differences and different ways of viewing works of art. Participants will be given a piece of chocolate as a souvenir.

Lecturer: Mr. Toshihiko Yoshino, head of foods development, Meito Sangyo K.K.
Feb. 13 (Sat) 2:00-3:30 p.m. (seating starts at 1:30 p.m.)
ATM Conference Hall
Admission free. A total of 80 participants will be admitted.

CRITERIUM 37: Miyuki Yokomizo

Period: December 19 (Sat), 1998 to January 31 (Sun), 1999
Venue: Room 9 of Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito
Admission: Free (included in exhibition ticket)
Artist Talk: January 31 (Sun), 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.

CRITERIUM 38: Yoko Takashima

Period: February 6 (Sat) to March 22 (Mon), 1999
Venue: Room 9 of Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito
Admission: Free (included in exhibition ticket)
Artist Talk: February 7 (Sun), 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.

The Latin word "criterium" is based on the Greek word "criterion," meaning "standard." The series features artists who are energetically engaged in exploring the possibilities of new forms of expression. Planning is assisted by the ATM Contemporary Art Center curator.

Support programs

H.T.P. (High Teen Pass) One-year pass for 15- to 19-year-olds, giving free admission to exhibitions organized by the Contemporary Art Center for a year from the day of purchase. ¥1,000
Discount for groups of 20 or more people. ¥600
Free admission given to children (through 9th grade), senior citizens (65 or older) and to handicapped persons.

Weekend Gallery Talk by volunteers
Starting on August 15 (Sat), volunteer staff members will offer gallery talks on weekends during the exhibition. The talks begin at 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Meet at the entrance of the gallery. Talks may be suspended depending on the circumstances. Please make inquires in advance.

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