The Michelangelo exhibition is closing soon at the National Museum of Western Art in Ueno Park, Tokyo. Last chance to go and see it! Yes, the show is padded with lots of educational multimedia materials (in Japanese) and work by other artists but it still has a few gems that are worth the trip. Like a friend pointed out to me, the drawings were done by an actual human being and not just reproductions in a book. Yes, art conservationists had trimmed and trimmed many of the sketches so only a few millimetres of paper existed around an arm drawn by his greatness but it has still been preserved for hundreds of years. That has got to mean something! A sketch like the one of Cleopatra used on the poster was never meant to be artwork desired by collectors and placed in a gilt frame. Sketches often capture the fleeting movement of an idea as it flits around in the artist’s unconscious. Get your ticket at a discount shop nearby and you won’t regret it.
Then save your ticket to see the permanent collection and you can go and see artwork from Pierre Bonnard, Gustave Dore, Fragonard, Millet, and many other well known names from any art history book. The Italian prints echo the Michelangelo show nicely, and you will not have to fight the crowds to get a good view. “The Witches’ Procession” possibly by Agostino Veneziano was wisely chosen for the poster.
After viewing the river of Styx and the demons fighting the angels in the pictures and engravings of the Sistine Chapel, you might want to take a stroll through the gardens in front of the museum and see the Gates of Hell and other bronzes by Auguste Rodin. These are truly one of the hidden treasures of Tokyo! More bronze casts are inside as part of the permanent collection but you can enjoy these particular ones for free, even without a ticket for any of the museum’s shows. Yes, they are real. They are bronze casts after all. Rodin could make several casts of any of his statues. Don’t the Gates of Hell look more frightening at night? The burghers could give you nightmares, too!