TOKYO - When the Mori Art Museum opened in October 2003, some art world observers wondered if it would be just another sleek corporate showplace for showing borrowed art presented with little curatorial oversight. Others thought perhaps the spectacular 360-degree skyline views afforded by its location on the high floors of the gleaming Mori Tower would distract from the art on the walls. A decade and 40 exhibitions later, those initial doubts have faded as the Mori has established itself as a significant force on the contemporary museum scene in Japan and Asia as well as internationally. And it is celebrating with a blowout show: Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal, featuring 700 works.
The museum was the brainchild of Minori Mori, the Forbes-ranked real estate developer and art collector who was instrumental in transforming the Roppongi Hills area of Tokyo into an upscale residential, commercial and cultural complex. An admirer of Le Corbusier’s theories of urban planning, Mori, who died in 2012 at age 77, thought of his namesake tower as a vertical urban development and called it an “artelligent city” that would easily integrate culture into people’s lives. The title of the inaugural show, Happiness: A Survival Guide for Art and Life, echoed the optimism of his goals.
Now, in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the cultural mood in Japan may be more introspective, and the museum is part of that changing dialogue. The Mori launched its anniversary season in October with Rappongi Crossing, a survey of new Japanese art. The Warhol show, organised by the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, will be the largest Warhol show ever held in Japan. And that is reason enough to be happy.
10th Anniversary Exhibition
Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
1 February–6 May 2014