STARS: Six Contemporary Artists from Japan to the World


2020.7.31 [Fri] - 2021.1.3 [Sun]

The decades of postwar economic growth were punctuated in Japan by a series of national events including the Olympics and World Expo, as the country began to turn its gaze outward once more. In the contemporary art world, the period was characterized by debates on decolonization and multiculturalism, and the proliferation of new contemporary art settings, such as biennials and art fairs.

For this exhibition, we have chosen six artists whose careers propelled them beyond the confines of Japan during this period, earning them high acclaim today around the world, and across generations, and will trace the journey of these artists from their earliest to the latest works. STARS explores how the practice of each artist has been evaluated in the global context, and touch upon these artists’ pursuit of universal issues transcending nationality and culture; traditions and aesthetics; technology and subculture, while keeping in mind aspects of social, cultural and economic background unique and particular to Japan.

The exhibition also presents archival materials related to the major Japanese contemporary art shows staged internationally from the 1950s to the present, examining the bases for evaluating art and the historical lineage of exhibitions down the decades.

Fast-forward to 2020, we now have the world thrown into turmoil by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the vulnerability of our social and economic structures. At this moment in history, as well as raising some fundamental questions about the essential role of art, how we define artistic success, and where we might find the “world” we seek, the output of these six top artists will doubtless offer some powerful messages suffused with inspiration for the post-corona age.

Click here to see installation view

Featured Artists  * in alphabetical order of artists’ surnames

Yayoi Kusama

Lee Ufan

Tatsuo Miyajima

Takashi Murakami

Yoshitomo Nara

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Please download the list of exhibited works of STARS. (PDF/126KB)

Videos Related to the STARS Exhibition

Watch free videos such as “Artist Talk ‘MY WORK’ - Takashi Murakami,” Mori Art Museum Director’s Gallery Tour, webinars and more on Mori Art Museum YouTube channel.
https://www.mori.art.museum/jp/mamdigital/03/ * Videos are in Japanese-language only

Stream paid premium content including Artist Talks of Lee Ufan, Yoshitomo Nara, Miyajima Tatsuo, and Hiroshi Sugimoto, and 2-Hour Gallery Tour (full version) on Vimeo.

Related Learning Programs

Join in our Webinars and School Programs related to the exhibition.

Kusama Yayoi
Yayoi Kusama
Pink Boat
Stuffed sewn fabric, boat, pair-oar
90 x 350 x 180 cm
Collection: Nagoya City Art Museum
Lee Ufan
Lee Ufan
Iron plate, glass, stone
180 x 220 x 40 cm
Tatsuo Miyajima
Tatsuo Miyajima
Clock for 300 Thousand Years
Light-emitting diode, IC, electric wire, and others
32 x 21 x 4.5 cm
Photo: Hirose Tadashi
Murakami Takashi
Takashi Murakami
Miss Ko² (Project Ko²)
Oil paint, acrylic, fiberglass, iron
181 x 61 x 102.5 cm
Nara Yoshitomo
Yoshitomo Nara
Voyage of the Moon (Resting Moon) / Voyage of the Moon
Mixed media
476 x 354 x 495 cm
Cooperation provided by graf
Collection: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Photo: Nakamichi Atsushi / Nacása & Partners
Sugimoto Hiroshi
Hiroshi Sugimoto
Polar Bear
Gelatin silver print
42.3 x 54.6 cm
Obayashi Collection


Presenting Early and Recent Works from Six Globally-Renowned Stars of Japan’s Contemporary Art

Devoting a space to each of the featured artists, STARS presents works from when they first achieved international recognition to more recent period, or even the newly-commissioned works. It will be a magnificent, memorable exhibition of six celebrated artists of our time.

A Perfect Introduction for the Japanese Contemporary Art Novice

STARS combines an emphasis on immersive large-scale installations and powerful video works, with archival displays - offering insight into the history of Japanese contemporary art and the careers of individual artists, stimulating the viewer’s senses and thirst for knowledge. The exhibition offers a close-up experience of the kind unique to contemporary art, made possible by the immediacy of the museum setting.

Archival Display 1 - Career Timelines

Chronologies of major exhibitions, plus catalogues, installation-view photographs, exhibition reviews and other materials related to the six artists will shed light on the international standing of each over the decades.

Photo: Takayama Kozo
Photo: Takayama Kozo

Archival Display 2 - Fifty Overseas Exhibitions of Japanese Contemporary Art

STARS turns the spotlight on 50 selected exhibitions of Japanese contemporary art staged outside the country since 1950s, providing an overview of each, plus priceless original archival material such as installation photographs, and exhibition reviews written then. It attempts to show how exhibition organizers and curators endeavored to express the concept of “Japan” and how these exhibitions were received (including some trenchant critiques suggesting it was not all plain sailing), in the process unraveling the history of Japanese contemporary art’s acceptance in the wider world.

Photo: Takayama Kozo
Photo: Takayama Kozo

About the Exhibition

Notice Regarding Photography in the Galleries

At the exhibition STARS, you may photograph some of the artworks/areas. Please read this notice carefully.

Photography of works with pictogram adhered is strictly prohibited. Details: here

Photography of works with pictogram adhered is strictly prohibited. Details: here

When taking photographs:

  • Do NOT touch the works of art.
  • Do NOT interfere with other visitors’ enjoyment of the museum.
  • Do NOT use flash lighting.
  • Do NOT use tripods and selfie sticks.

About Photographing Artworks of Takashi Murakami

  • Photography is permitted for private and non-commercial use only.

About Photographing Artworks of Yayoi Kusama, Lee Ufan, Tatsuo Miyajima, Yoshitomo Nara and Hiroshi Sugimoto

When using photographs taken of the exhibition:

  • Photographs may be used for non-commercial purposes only. Photographs may NOT be used for commercial purposes.
  • Photographs may NOT be altered in any ways.
  • The conditions above are licensed under the Creative Commons License. When uploading photographs for blogs or any other photo-sharing services, please make sure to display the photograph along with such credits as below.


Artist’s name and work title: Yayoi Kusama Pink Boat
This photograph is licensed under “Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivative Works 4.0 International.”

* For details about the Creative Commons License and marks, please see the Creative Commons Japan website:
* If photographs/videos that include other museum visitors are made public, they may infringe on that person’s right of portrait.

General Information
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