Since Japan dropped its longstanding policy of national isolation in the 1850s, there has been an immensely creative give-and-take between the cultures of Japan and the West. After World War II, especially, many Japanese artists began working in art forms derived from the international scene, moving away from local traditions. At the same time, traditional subject matter and styles endured. While some artists explored new and different motifs and styles using traditional media, others embraced Western materials, subject matters, and styles.

This installation is by no means a complete review of recent art from Japan; instead it focuses on a few selected works created by artists of three recent generations. The first came of age directly after World War II; some are just coming to the world’s attention now. Strains of western styles and approaches like abstract expressionism, pop, “happenings,” minimalism, and feminist art can be seen here, but the results are also uniquely Japanese in concerns and approach. The works are the product of a particularly fertile period of artistic experimentation, one that generated a unique synthesis of ideas and forms from East and West.

Artists in the exhibition include Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Daido Moriyama, Mariko Mori, and Chinatsu Ban.

Contemporary Outlook is an exciting new series of small focused exhibitions, drawn mainly from the MFA collections, that examines emerging trends, issues, ideas, and ways of looking at art and artists.