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Shirakaba and Japanese Modernism

Art Magazines, Artistic Collectives, and the Early Avant-garde

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Erin Schoneveld

Shirakaba and Japanese Modernism examines the most significant Japanese art and literary magazine of the early twentieth century, Shirakaba (White Birch, 1910–1923). In this volume Erin Schoneveld explores the fluid relationship that existed between different types of modern visual media, exhibition formats, and artistic practices embraced by the Shirakaba-ha (White Birch Society). Schoneveld provides a new comparative framework for understanding how the avant-garde pursuit of individuality during Japan’s Taishō period stood in opposition to state-sponsored modernism and how this played out in the emerging media of art magazines. This book analyzes key moments in modern Japanese art and intellectual history by focusing on the artists most closely affiliated with Shirakaba, including Takamura Kōtarō, Umehara Ryūzaburō, and Kishida Ryūsei, who selectively engaged with and transformed modernist idioms of individualism and self-expression to create a new artistic style that gave visual form to their own subjective reality. Drawing upon archival research that includes numerous articles, images, and exhibitions reviews from Shirakaba, as well as a complete translation of Yanagi Sōetsu’s seminal essay, “The Revolutionary Artist” ( Kakumei no gaka), Schoneveld demonstrates that, contrary to the received narrative that posits Japanese modernism as merely derivative, the debate around modernism among Japan’s early avant-garde was lively, contested, and self-reflexive.
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A Career of Japan

Baron Raimund von Stillfried and Early Yokohama Photography

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Luke Gartlan

A Career of Japan is the first study of one of the major photographers and personalities of nineteenth-century Japan. Baron Raimund von Stillfried was the most important foreign-born photographer of the Meiji era and one of the first globally active photographers of his generation. He played a key role in the international image of Japan and the adoption of photography within Japanese society itself. Yet, the lack of a thorough study of his activities, travels, and work has been a fundamental gap in both Japanese- and Western-language scholarship. Based on extensive new primary sources and unpublished documents from archives around the world, this book examines von Stillfried’s significance as a cultural mediator between Japan and Central Europe. It highlights the tensions and fierce competition that underpinned the globalising photographic industry at a site of cultural contact and exchange – treaty-port Yokohama. In the process, it raises key questions for Japanese visual culture, Habsburg studies, and cross-cultural histories of photography and globalisation.

A Career of Japan is the winner of the 2nd Professor Josef Kreiner Hosei University Award for International Studies (Kreiner Award).

“Luke Gartlan’s book is a compelling and enjoyable read, and contributes major new perspectives to the growing field of Meiji photography. It will certainly be the authoritative work on Raimund von Stillfried, but it is also impressive for its contributions to other important areas of Meiji cultural studies, including representations of the emperor, photography of Hokkaido, and world’s fairs.” Bert Winther-Tamaki (University of California, Irvine)