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Art + Auction Announces Island Dream: Lee Ufan Museum to Open on Naoshima

NAOSHIMA ISLAND, Japan— Imagine a clutch of museums clustered on a hilly dot of land surrounded by azure waters and chock-full of some of the best contemporary art money can buy. You’ve just pictured Benesee Art Site Naoshima, on Naoshima, one of seven islands in the Seto Inland Sea, off the coast of the city of Okayama (three hours by train south of Tokyo). Founded in 1992 by the reclusive Japanese billionaire businessman Soichiro Fukutake in collaboration with the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, it’s home to dozens of works — some site-specific — by such artists as Teresita Fernández, Jasper Johns, Yayoi Kusama, Bruce Nauman, and James Turrell. Naoshima continues to justify its reputation as a must-see destination for international art pilgrims. On July 19, Fukutake unveils a new museum devoted to the work of the Korean-born Minimalist Lee Ufan, who lives in Kamakura, Japan. The Ando-designed semiunderground structure, contains displays of Lee’s paintings and sculptures from the 1970s to the present, including Relatum, 1979-96, "a room of silence with nothing but an iron plate leaning against a wall and a stone on the floor," says the artist. Also planned is an empty mural-lined space designed to echo the sound of people entering it, as well as an outdoor sculpture plaza along a valley sloping toward the sea. The launch of the new Ufan museum coincides with the highly anticipated debut of the first Setouchi International Art Festival, a 100-day celebration spanning Naoshima and the adjacent islands, on which Fukutake plans to continue introducing new art venues. In the middle of a pine forest on Teshima, for instance, he is opening a small museum in late July to house an installation by Christian Boltanski. Construction has also begun on the Teshima Art Museum, to be ready for visitors in the fall. Fukutake is as much a connoisseur of architecture as he is of art: The Teshima’s building, a collaboration between the architect Ryue Nishizawa and the artist Rei Naito, is shaped like a drop of water.
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