Vermeer in Tokyo
Another reason we wanted to visit Tokyo for our anniversary trip was to visit the Vermeer exhibit at the Tokyo Metropolitan of Art in Ueno Park (showing August 2 – December 14, 2008).
8-36 Ueno-Koen, Taito-ku
Johannes Vermeer a Dutch painter only produced 36 canvases (as opposed to say, Picasso who has over 1,000 pieces). Of course, Vermeer’s most famous work is probably "Girl with Pearl Earring" or the "The Astronomer" so this was a chance to see some of his lesser-known works.
Anyways, the exhibit in Tokyo was showing six of Vermeer’s pieces including, "The Little Street", "Diana and her Companions", "The Girl with the Wineglass", "Woman with a Lute", "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary" and the rarely shown, "A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals" which had until recently been owned by Steve Wynn (he purchased it in 2004 for US$30million) but he recently sold it a private buyer.
The exhibit was called, "Vermeer and the Delft Style" which spanned three floors with the Vermeer pieces being saved for last in order for viewers to learn a bit about Delft artists (Vermeer's contemporaries during the Golden Age of Dutch Art) first.
We waited in line for about 20 minutes before entering the museum. It was quite crowded unfortunately but of course that didn’t take away from the pleasure of enjoying Vermeer’s style of light and proportions.
Originally, "The Art of Painting" was supposed to be one of the six paintings but at the last moment, "Lady Writing a Letter with her Maidservant" replaced it. I was actually really looking forward to viewing "The Art of Painting" because it is one of Vermeer’s pieces that makes beautiful use of lapis lazuli (natural ultramarine). Apparently for security reasons, that painting is staying right where it is (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). Oh well. I guess it’s a good excuse to go to Austria.
After an enjoyable hour or so, we exited out into Ueno Park and took the subway to Shinjuku for lunch and some window shopping. After a hot lunch of udon noodles and tempura in the middle of crazy busy Shinjuku station, we enjoyed the solitude of the West Side (being mostly offices, it was pretty dead on this particular Sunday afternoon).
Tokyo’s largest camera stores, Yodobashi and Bic Camera are located near Shinjuku station. I was particularly interested in purchasing the new Lumix LX3 but found that if I wanted the non-Japanese camera (i.e. functions in English and an international warranty), it would actually be cheaper for me to buy from amazon.com. So if you are thinking of buying electronics in Japan, be aware that it might not necessarily be cheaper (especially now with the yen being so high).