Elegant Perfection: Masterpieces of Courtly and Religious Art from the Tokyo National Museum February 19–April 8, 2012

The museum's new Arts of Japan Gallery debuts with the inaugural exhibition Elegant Perfection: Masterpieces of Courtly and Religious Art from the Tokyo National Museum. The opening marks the culmination of a five-year initiative to expand the presentation of Asian art at the MFAH. The Arts of Japan Gallery is the final installation in a suite of permanent Arts of Asia galleries in the Law Building.

Elegant Perfection showcases more than 25 objects—on view in Houston for only eight weeks—from the collection of the prestigious Tokyo National Museum. The exhibition covers essential themes and traditions in Japanese art and culture, illuminating the relationship between the rise of Buddhism in Japan and the development of a highly refined court culture. Among the works on loan are rare pieces designated National Treasures, Important Cultural Properties, and Important Art Objects. Highlights include a rare 11th-century edition of the Man’yōshu (one of the oldest existing collections of Japanese poetry); a sumptuous indigo paper scroll documenting the travels of Chinese priest Xuan-Zhuang to India; calligraphy by 16th–17th-century Emperor Goyozei; and such masterworks of Japanese Buddhist art as an 11th-century seated sculpture of Dainichi Nyorai and a 14th-century painting depicting the Buddha’s departure from this world.

Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue published by the MFAH in association with Yale University Press. Following Elegant Perfection, the Arts of Japan Gallery will be reinstalled with works from the MFAH collection of Japanese art, along with objects on a two-year loan from the Tokyo National Museum, including 16th- and 17th-century ceramics, 12th-century bronze Buddhist ritual implements, and a sculpture dating to 1000 BC. Never before has the Tokyo National Museum approved long-term loans to an American museum.

Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, "Elegant Perfection: Masterpieces of Courtly and Religious Art from the Tokyo National Museum" opens as the inaugural exhibition in the museum’s new Arts of Japan Gallery.

The Arts of Japan Gallery is made possible with generous support from:

Japan Business Association of Houston 2011*
In memory of Mr. Seigo Arai
Nanako and Dale Tingleaf
Mitsui & Company (U.S.A.), Inc.
Penny and Paul Loyd
Mitsubishi Corporation
Miwa S. Sakashita and John R. Stroehlein
Sumitomo Corporation of America
General Electric
Donna Fujimoto Cole
Julia Anderson Frankel and Russell Frankel
Kathleen and Glen Gondo
Drs. Ellin and Robert Grossman
Gulf States Toyota, Inc.
Merrill and Joe Hafner
Tomiko Mita and Dr. John M. Mayo
Mitsubishi International Corporation–Houston Branch
Akemi and Yasuhiko Saitoh
Satake USA Inc.
Taeko and Nobuya Tomita
Toshiba International Corporation
Nozomi and Ryuji Watanabe
Susan and Jack Lapin

*Japan Business Association of Houston 2011
The JBAH gift made possible in part by
     JX Group
     Kaneka Texas Corporation
     Kuraray America, Inc.
     Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, Inc.
     Toshiba International Corporation

Special thanks to The Japan Foundation, New York


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