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Japan Society

Yamaoka Tesshu (1836–1888), Talismanic Dragon, Edo Period (1615-1867 A.D.), anging scroll(s), ink on paper, 44.5 x 60.3 cm


None Whatsoever: Zen Paintings from the Gitter-Yelen Collection

March 8 – June 16, 2024

Often playful, sometimes comical, and always profound, Zen paintings represent one of the world’s most fascinating religious and artistic traditions. None Whatsoever: Zen Paintings from the Gitter-Yelen Collection explores the origins of Zen Buddhism through over four centuries of ink paintings and calligraphies by painter-monks, who expressed Zen Buddhist teachings through their art, including the celebrated Buddhist master Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1768). The exhibition advances Japan Society Gallery’s history of presenting important Buddhist artworks and concepts, including from the 2007 exhibition, Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan, and the 2010 exhibition, The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin. Visitors will also be invited to engage with Zen Buddhist practices through wide-ranging public programming, from in-gallery meditation sessions to calligraphy workshops and tea ceremony demonstrations.

The exhibition takes its title from a legendary encounter between a Buddhist monk and a Chinese emperor. According to 8th-century Chinese sources, itinerant monk Bodhidharma, patriarch of Zen Buddhism, visited the court of Emperor Wu Liang. When the emperor asked how much goodwill his generous deeds had earned in the eyes of the Buddha, the monk’s curt reply, “None Whatsoever,” shocked the ruler. This exchange—seemingly casual and dismissive, yet also uncompromising, profound, and revolutionary—has come to embody the relationship in Zen Buddhism between student and teacher.

None Whatsoever originated at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and was co-organized by Bradley Bailey, The Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Curator of Asian Art, and Yukio Lippit, The Jeffrey T. Chambers and Andrea Okamura Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. The Japan Society presentation is organized by Tiffany Lambert, Curator and Interim Director, Japan Society.

To learn more, click here.




George Maciunas, Poster for Works by Yoko Ono, Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, 1961; Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource NY

Out of Bounds: Japanese Women Artists in Fluxus

October 13, 2023 – January 21, 2024

This exhibition is the first to fully explore the essential role of Japanese women in Fluxus, a movement that helped contemporary artists define new modes of artistic expression. Near the 60th anniversary of the movement’s founding, this exhibition highlights the contributions of four pioneering Japanese artists — Shigeko Kubota (1937–2015), Yoko Ono (1933–), Takako Saito (1929–), and Mieko Shiomi (1938–) —and contextualizes their role within Fluxus and the broader artistic movements of the 1960s and beyond.

The exhibition is organized by Midori Yoshimoto, Guest Curator, and Tiffany Lambert, Curator and Interim Director, Japan Society.

For more information, click here.