Meet Tessai, the Japanese Master Who Ushered in Modernism

Leave a comment

Click the link below the picture


He dressed like an ancient monk but ushered in a new era in Japanese art.

Working at the turn of the 20th century, the artist Tomioka Tessai picked up on Chinese traditions newly available to Japanese travelers and scholars and added a dash of his own personality to turn out art that, to some observers, shared similarities with the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists of the day.

“He gave himself this guise of recluse—growing out his beard, living in a messy house with I don’t know how many cats and all that,” says Frank Feltens, the Smithsonian’s curator of Japanese art. At the same time, he was a savvy operator who kept friendly relationships with the emperor and had connections with the management of a department store conglomerate that sold a lot of his work. So the artist, who died on New Year’s Eve 1924 at the age of 87, was “living in the real, modern present but at the same time using the past as a touchstone,” says Feltens, adding that because Tessai combined these aspects so seamlessly he would become one of Japan’s most important thought leaders of the time.

“Meeting Tessai: Modern Japanese Art from the Cowles Collection,” a succinct exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, is putting a new spotlight on the artist’s largely forgotten work, along with that of his most important mentor, the Buddhist poet, and nun Otagaki Rengetsu. The exhibition represents the first major Tessai survey in half a century, and the display is culled from the Mary and Cheney Cowles collection that was donated to the museum in 2019. Over the course of the past five years, the Seattle couple turned over 260 works to the museum’s Freer Gallery of Art following their 20 years of collecting.

“For the Japan collections at the Freer Gallery, it’s the biggest and most significant addition to the collection, actually, since the founding of the museum in 1923,” says Feltens, who organized the show.



Tomioka Tessai was beloved for the personality and humor he infused in his work, with exaggerated expressions on his figures, and traditional scenes such as that of his 1921 Blind Men Appraising an Elephant (above: detail, 1921)Freer Gallery of Art, The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection



Click the link below for the article:





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The Orthosphere

Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists - Joseph de Maistre

Clouds Curiosity Corner

A community of movie lovers to discuss all things cinema related! Reviews, suggestions, and more! <3

A dreamAchieve.wordspress.com

Achieve your goals with hard work


Fresh hacks every day

Babsje Heron

Great Blue Herons: A study in patience and grace

Print Test Page

Check Your Printer Quality


songs unheard by the poet next door

This, that and the other thing

Looking at life through photography and words

The Wild Coach

You are an important nexus of energy

Cindy Bruchman

Photography. Observations. Adventures. Let's talk.

Time To Talk Beauty

A world of beauty ... from Scotland

Julia's books

Sharing my passion for books with views, news and reviews

Tasty Eats

Tasty recipes from chef Ronit Penso's kitchen

Cruzar la Noche

Poemas y Cuentos para Insomnes

My World

<meta name="p:domain_verify" content="8d9ac2e0a18e01ddc774daf55e52f1f6"/>

In the Net! - Pictures and Stories of Life

Sometimes, life is like that.

the orang-utan librarian

welcome to the virtual library

Light Motifs II

Paula Light's Writing Site | The Classic Edition

writing to freedom

words to inspire and empower

Words and Herbs

For all who appreciate the beauty of words, flowers and homecooking


Our opinions don't stink!


Writings and Witterings


Writing, the Universe and whatever occurs to me


An Old Plumber, An Ex-Carer, An Amateur Poet, Words From The Heart

Adventures in reading, running and working from home

Liz Dexter muses on freelancing, reading, and running ...

This is Another Story

About life, fantasy, and everything in between

Asomarse al Abismo

¿Qué es el mal?


An insight to a heart mind and soul.

The happy Quitter!

It started when I gave up smoking and went from there!


No Limits to Creativity: Explore with Creyzex

Writings of Red

—to be seen yet remain hidden.

Jolly Princess at World Wide Web

Blog, Culture, Health and Wellness, Hobbies, Home Management, Indoor Plants, LIfestyle, Plants

Meeka's Mind

the passions of a science fiction writer

Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey


Interesting stories about everyday moments.

Emotional Shadows

where all emotions are cared for!

Fake Flamenco

Connecting the Americas, Bridging Cultures Supergringa in Spain: A Travel Memoir

flashlight batteries - Ali Grimshaw

writing circles & poetry to keep your light on

Notes From the Hinterland

A blog about nature, home, community, books, writing, the environment, food, and rural life.

%d bloggers like this: