The Fukuoka Art Museum’s collection consists of modern and contemporary art, i.e. art created in the 20th century or later, and pre-modern art, produced in the 19th century or earlier. The collection is highly diverse both historically and geographically, ranging from around 5000 B.C. to A.D. 2000, and including art of Japan, other Asian countries, and the West, and in terms of media, encompassing painting, sculpture and film as well as folding screens, ceramics, and textiles. This diversity is the most prominent feature of the Fukuoka Art Museum’s collection.
We began acquiring works of art in 1974, prior to the museum’s opening in 1979, in accordance with the acquisition policy described below. Since then, our collection has been increasingly enriched through purchases and donations made by individuals and benefactors. The total number of works in the collection now exceeds 16,000.
The works in our collection are researched from an art-historical standpoint, and we aim to present them in our galleries in an appropriately thematic manner. Also, we respond positively to loan requests from museums both in Japan and overseas with the goal of bringing our collection to a wider audience and contributing to the progress of art-historical studies.
For a local public museum like ours, this first policy is indispensable. We do not limit the scope to the City of Fukuoka, but include the western area of Japan including Kyushu, Okinawa and Yamaguchi Prefecture. This reflects our basic concept of creating a museum that serves as an art center in Western Japan.
There is another reason for this policy. It is because many of Japan’s important modern Western-style painters were from Kyushu, including Kuroda Seiki, Yoshida Hiroshi, Aoki Shigeru, and Sakamoto Hanjiro. Raphaël Collin’s work was an influence on the style of Kuroda Seiki (born in Kagoshima Prefecture), one of the most important artists in the history of modern Japanese Western-style painting. Therefore, Raphaël Collin’s work was the very first piece purchased based on this policy. In addition to those modern and Western-style paintings, we collect the works of the Shubosha group and Kyushu-ha, an avant-garde artists collective, which are central to the study of postwar art history in Fukuoka.
This policy relates to the acquisition of modern and contemporary art. In the 1970s when we began acquiring art, there were not many public museums focusing on contemporary art. In that sense, we aimed to assemble a distinctive collection. Our collection of modern and contemporary art includes works by Japanese artists such as Ohtake Shinro, Tatsuno Toeko, Yanagi Miwa, and members of the Gutai Art Association, while contemporary artists from abroad include Anish Kapoor and Anselm Kiefer, and those of the modernist period include Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Andy Warhol, and Léonard Foujita. A unique part of our collection is a series of works by the Surrealist Fujino Kazutomo, of which a large number were donated.
Although we were collecting contemporary art from other Asian countries in accordance with this policy, these were transferred to the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum when it opened in 1999, and we have resumed acquiring new art from other Asian countries since then.
The Kuroda Family Treasures (Kuroda being a former feudal lord of the Fukuoka domain), the Matsunaga Collection of tea ceremony utensils, and the former Tokoin Temple Buddhist Art Treasures were donated and/or entrusted to the museum. These are representative of our pre-modern art collection and include many Important Cultural Properties. When the Fukuoka City Museum opened in 1990, a considerable number of historically valuable items, including the National Treasure Gold Seal, one of the Kuroda Family Treasures, were transferred to them. Since then we have also focused on collecting ceramics from the Kyushu region, the works of Sengai and the art of the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa).
This policy was further added after the Fukuoka City Museum opened in 1990. In order to enrich our pre-modern art collection, which was reduced due to the transfer of many works to that museum, we enhanced acquisition by focusing on the following three fields: Daimyo (feudal) art, primarily paintings and lacquerware, in view of the connection with the Kuroda Family Treasures; Tea ceremony items; and Rimpa-related masterpieces in view of the connection with Matsunaga Collection. Asian arts and crafts became a new target of acquisition, in relation to the various entire collections gifted in accordance with acquisition policy number 5 described below.
This policy was added after the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum opened in 1999. While that museum collects modern and contemporary art from Asia, we collect pre-modern art related to Asian countries and regions.
Art from Southeast Asia is found in the Eiko Kusuma Collection of Indonesian textiles, the Honda Collection of ceramics from the Indochina Peninsula, the Kawamura Collection of pressed relief-like clay images from Indochina, and the Lee Collection of Peranakan women’s costumes. Also, gifted works such as the Morita Collection and Kadota Collection of Chinese ceramics and the Kurita Collection of earthenware from the Indus Valley are new pillars of our pre-modern art collection.