The Benesse Art Site Naoshima on the small Japanese island of Naoshima is a paradise for contemporary art, architecture and nature lovers, for it is here that famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando has built extraordinary museums to house work by artists including David Hockney, Cy Twombly and Jasper Johns, all set within a peaceful coastal setting. And for those who think this sounds like heaven, the newly released book, Tadao Ando at Naoshima: Art, Architecture, Nature, will only further the urge to book a ticket to Japan.
The Benesse Art Site Naoshima is owned and run by the president of book publishers Benesse Corporation, Soichiro Fukutake, who bought the southern section of Naoshima in 1987 and put Ando in charge of developing buildings to house the collection, started by his father. Fukutake believes economy should serve culture and that art can stimulate individual and corporate responsibility – ideas which underlie the Art Site.
At the centre of the Art Site is the Benesse House Museum, which acts both as a gallery for nearly 350 pieces of art, and as a hotel that allow guests to view the works in different types of light throughout the day. Fitting seamlessly into the island’s geography, the museum allows for stunning interspersing views of the art and the landscape.
Spread around the island is the Art House Project, for which seven old abandoned houses have been transformed by artists into a series of permanent installations. The project has allowed artists to live and work in the town of Honmura, population 3,400 – a working relationship that is integral to Fukutake’s vision for the island. The local residents support the art installations and have become involved in the Art Site by acting as guides and by managing the artworks.
Text by Karen Orton
Naoshima: Art, Architecture, Nature is out now from Hatje Cantz publishers.
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