Tempus Fugit :: 光陰矢の如し:: Time Flies

December 21, 2019 January 30, 2022

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.


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.


Object Research

The Harn Museum of Art recently partnered with UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine to conduct a radiology examination of two sculptures from the Harn’s Asian art collection. Drs. Bob and Eric Thoburn led a team of scientists to take X-ray and CT scan images of a 17th century Japanese bodhisattva, included in the exhibition, and a rare Joseon dynasty Korean wooden sculpture.


Image credits
Slide 1
Left: Kawase Hasui, "Moonlit Night Over Toyama Plain," c. 1930s, ink and colors on paper, museum purchase, funds provided by the Caroline Julier and James G. Richardson Acquisition Fund
Middle: Japanese, "Gilt Wood Bodhisattva," 18th century, museum purchase, funds provided by friends of the Harn Museum and the Robert H. and Kathleen M. Axline Acquisition Endowment, photograph by Randy Batista
Right: Japanese, late 19th century, "Large Vase with Lotus Design," cloisonné enamels on copper, museum purchase, gift of private donors, photograph by Randy Batista
Slide 2
Ishiyama Taihaku, "Landscape," 1926, sumi ink with mica ornamentation on silk, museum purchase, funds provided by the Robert H. and Kathleen M. Axline Acquisition Endowment
Slide 3
Left: Namikawa Sosuke, "Tray with Birds and Cherry Blossoms," c. 1900-1910, cloisonné enamels, gift of Gladys Gracy Cofrin, photograph by Randy Batista
Right (detail): Shotei Watanabe, "Thrush on Snowy Branch," c. 1890s, ink and color on silk, museum purchase, gift of private donors