Tempus Fugit:: 光陰矢の如し

"Thrush on Snowy Branch," detail

Tempus Fugit:: 光陰矢の如し:: Time Flies

December 21, 2019 - December 12, 2021

The exhibition Tempus Fugit:: 光陰矢の如し:: Time Flies is a reflection on time and its many meanings. This broad concept has been applied to the Japanese art collections at the Harn Museum as an investigative tool to look at how time has been measured in the visual record, how art objects can portray several moments in time, and how artists experience time during the production of their work. The celebration of the natural world, through life cycles and the acknowledgment of mortality and the change of the seasons, is also a recurring theme in Japanese art and celebrated within this exhibition.

Objects in a range of media, from painted scrolls and religious sculpture to cloisonné, textiles, and woodblock prints, echo the pervasiveness of the passage of time in both sacred and secular contexts. Artists featured in the exhibition include Watanabe Shōtei (1851-1918), Namikawa Sōsuke (1847-1910), Kawase Hasui (1883-1957), Ishiyama Taihaku (1893-1961), and Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875). More than half of the works in the exhibition have never been on display and will be on view for the first time.

While time-telling devices that originated in Asia are rare in Western museum collections, the Harn is fortunate to have one of the largest collections of raw incense holders in North America. These vessels, known as kogo, are small containers to house either pieces of incense wood or blended aromatics for ceremonial usages. While the Tempus Fugit exhibition will be located in the North Gallery of the David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing, special consideration of time-related objects will be included in the adjacent exhibitions in the Central Gallery, including Wit and Wonder of Kogo Incense Boxes: The Sandra G. Saltzman Collection.


Jordan Alexander Key, Harn Composer-in-Residence 2019-2020      

World premiere: Saturday, April 11, 2020

Inspired by the themes and works in Tempus Fugit, Jordan Alexander Key will explore the concept of time in music for his Composer-in-Residence project this year. He is also presenting a series of Museum Nights talks related to his interest in mathematics and music.

See SoundSpot for more.


This exhibition is generously supported by the Quinn Family Charitable Foundation, the Japan Foundation, New York, with additional funding by the Cofrin Curator of Asian Art Endowment.

Read More

Image Credits:

DETAIL: Shotei Watanabe, "Thrush on Snowy Branch," detail c. 1890s, ink and color on silk, museum purchase, gift of private donors