Ellis initiated negotiations with Japanese collectors
and museums, and when he retired Stephen Little, current director
and president of the academy, took over the responsibility,
finalized Ellis’ negotiations, secured some additional
works, and opened the exhibition for public viewing April 8.
According to Little, Ellis’ vision was to tell the story
of European painting in Japan—one never before told outside
of Japan. The exhibition would show art by major impressionists,
post-impressionists, and modern artists such as—Claude
Monet, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot,
and more—that have been housed in Japanese collections.
To do this, the academy arranged for the loan of more than 50
paintings from 28 Japanese collections.
The exhibition also shows works by Japanese artists who introduced
Western techniques to Japan. It is the first exhibit ever to
look at this aspect of art history.
“You see great works of art and [you] also learn about Japan and France,” said
Little, who went on to explain how art can open people’s eyes and make
them see and understand things in ways that would otherwise require reading 20
to 30 books.
Little believes that telling the story of art in Japan from
over 100 years of art collection is one important thing the
academy can do. Little said, “It’s
unique,” it’s a show about dialogue, about two countries trying to
understand each other. He also admits that it was an incredible opportunity to
bring these world-class paintings together, paintings that cannot be found anywhere
else in the world, all at the same time, in the same room.
More than 20 museums helped arrange the loans of paintings
for the exhibition. “It’s
exceeded my expectations,” said Little.
According to Little, it cost the academy more than $1 million
to put the exhibition, including the catalogue, together,
and it’s “amazing.” The
exhibit will end on June 6, but Little is proud that the catalogue will live
on to tell the story of the interaction of art between Japan and Paris.
I’m extremely proud of the staff and scholars in both Japan and Europe
who helped to make all of this exhibition possible,” said Little, a sentiment
that was echoed by Academy Western Art Curator Jennifer Saville. “We’re
so lucky to have it all come together so well,” Saville said.I’m
grateful to the cooperation of all the artists and collectors that helped make
it all possible.”
The full-color, 200-page catalogue is available in soft cover
and can be purchased at the Academy Shop for $27.50. It
includes essays by leading Japanese
The exhibition is open for public viewing Tuesday through
Sundays. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children
6-17 years old. (Children 5 and
under are free). For more information, call the Japan and Paris hotline
To order the catalogue, call the Academy Shop, 532-8703.