Fujiko & Ukichiro Nakaya
Dec 22, 2017 – Mar 4, 2018
It is with great pleasure that we present Greenland, an exhibition devoted to the internationally active fog artist Fujiko Nakaya and her father, Ukichiro Nakaya, at the Ginza Maison Hermès Le Forum.
In 1936, Ukichiro Nakaya, a famous scientist known for the quote, “Snow crystals are letters sent from heaven,” successfully made the world’s first artificial snow crystals.
Ukichiro believed that the realization of scientific truths depended on a collaboration between human beings and nature. This continues to have a strong influence on Fujiko Nakaya, who uses fog as a medium of artistic expression.
Born in 1933 as the second daughter of Ukichiro Nakaya, Fujiko started her career by making paintings. She later participated in E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology), an experimental group focusing on collaborations between art and science that was formed in New York in 1966, and in the ’70s and ’80s produced and exhibited video works while based in Japan.
Fujiko’s first “fog sculpture,” a type of work made with artificial fog that has come to be synonymous with the artist, was exhibited at the Pepsi Pavilion at Expo ’70, held in Osaka in 1970. She subsequently created over 80 installations and performances all over the world. Fujiko also has consistently collaborated with artists from various other genres, including architecture, music, dance, and light.
In this exhibition, whose title refers to the site of Ukichiro’ s later research on snow and ice, Ginza Maison Hermès’ glass block is likened to the icy terrain of the Arctic, as Fujiko undertakes a fog experiment in the interior of the space. Ukichiro’ s numerous memorable phrases, such as, “To understand ice, you have to listen to ice,” conveys the mental and physical impressions that transcend science when we are united with sublime nature, and the rigor and reverence that Ukichiro felt when closely examining a subject in natural science research.
From 1957, around the time that Ukichiro began to spend the last summers of his life in the Arctic, Fujiko was in Paris and Madrid studying painting, which later provided a foundation for her artistic expression. The natural scientific motifs of the sun and clouds, which she depicted at the time, convey two physically separate but resonating sensibilities.
Along with Glacial Fogfall, a new work by Fujiko, the exhibition focuses on the endlessly curious and challenging spirits of these two talented individuals. We hope that you will enjoy this dialogue, straddling two generations, between Ukichiro and Fujiko Nakaya, who saw the process of observing, recording, reproducing, and understanding the ever-changing character of nature and the environment as a highly significant activity and one that is increasingly important for us today.
View exhibition catalogue online
“Greenland” by Fujiko & Ukichiro Nakaya – PDF
Born in Sapporo in 1933 as the second daughter of Ukichiro Nakaya. Graduated from Northwestern University in the U.S. Participated in E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology), an experimental group focusing on collaborations between art and science that was formed in New York in 1966. While active with the group, Nakaya showed her first “fog sculpture” made with artificial fog in the Pepsi Pavilion at the Osaka Expo in 1970. Since then, she has used artificial fog to create environmental sculptures, parks, installations, and performances all over the world. She has also produced collaborations with artists from other genres, including architecture, music, dance, and light. In the 1970s, Nakaya began making video works and in 1980, she established Video Gallery SCAN in Harajuku. In 2008, she received the Special Achievement Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival, and in 2017, she was made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. Among her most notable works are Foggy Forest (Children’s Forest, Showa Kinen Park, 1992), F.O.G. (Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 1999), Tales of Ugetsu (Yokohama Triennale 2008), Veil (Philip Johnson’s Glass House, New Canaan, 2014), and London Fog (Tate Modern, London, 2017).
Ukichiro Nakaya (1900–62)
Born in Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture. Ukichiro Nakaya was one of Japan’s most prominent scientists, and an experimental physicist who established the foundation for glaciology. Nakaya is known for the quote, “Snow crystals are letters sent from heaven.” In 1930, he accepted a teaching post at Hokkaido University, and in 1932, he began studying snow crystals. In 1936, he successfully made the world’s first artificial snow crystals. In 1952, Nakaya moved to the U.S., and continued to study ice, frost, fog, and the ice caps of Greenland. In 1962, while engaged in this research, Nakaya unfortunately succumbed to an illness. His most notable published works include Snow (Iwanami Shoten, 1938), Snow Research: The Form and Formation of Snow Crystals (Iwanami Shoten, 1949), Snow Crystals: Natural and Artificial (Harvard University Press, 1954), and Ice in the Arctic (Houbunkan, 1958). In 1994, the Nakaya Ukichiro Museum of Snow and Ice was opened in Kaga, Nakaya’s birthplace, in recognition of his achievements.
- Exhibition Period: December 22 (Fri), 2017 – March 4 (Sun), 2018
Mon-Sat 11:00-20:00 (Last entry 19:30)
Sun 11:00-19:00 (Last entry 18:30)
- Open daily (except New Year holidays) / Admission free
- Venue: Ginza Maison Hermès Le Forum (8F, 5-4-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan TEL: 03-3569-3300)
- Organized by: Fondation d’entreprise Hermès
- Supported by: PROCESSART INC., Nakaya Ukichiro Foundation, Nakaya Ukichiro Museum of Snow and Ice
- Production support: YKK AP Inc.
- Under the auspices of: Ambassade de France/Institut français du Japon