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How do you reconstruct a tradition of religious art wiped out by another religion? Naoko Gunji takes up this challenging question in Amidaji. Amidaji was a Buddhist temple in western Japan that, from the twelfth century onwards, overlooked the strait of Dannoura and commemorated the tragic protagonists of The Tale of the Heike who perished in the strait at the end of the Genpei War (1180–1185)―the Heike or the Taira clan and the child-emperor Antoku (1178–1185). Amidaji was destroyed, however, in 1870 amid a nativist, royalist movement of persecuting Buddhism, and replaced by an imperial Shinto shrine. Its art, architecture, and rituals were lost, and have until now been understood through the lens of the current shrine and a few surviving objects. By investigating numerous historical sources and artistic, literary, religious, political, and ideological contexts, Gunji reveals a carefully coordinated program of visual art and rituals for the salvation of Antoku and the Taira.
(De)Colonialism, Orientalism, and Imagining Asia
Author:
In The Curious Case of the Camel in Modern Japan Ayelet Zohar critically analyzes camel images as a metonymy for Asia, and Japanese attitudes towards the continent. The book reads into encounters with the exotic animals, from nanban art, realist Dutch-influenced illustrations, through misemono roadshows of the first camel-pair imported in 1821. Modernity and Japan’s wars of Pan-Asiatic fantasies associated camels with Asia’s poverty, bringing camels into zoos, tourist venues, and military zones, as lowly beasts of burden, while postwar images project the imago of exotica and foreignness on camels as Buddhist ‘peace’ messengers. Zohar convincingly argues that in the Japanese imagination, camels serve as signifiers of Asia as Otherness, the opposite of Japan’s desire for self-association with Western cultures.
The Evolution of a Japanese Folk Deity from Hell Figure to Popular Savior
Author:
The first comprehensive study in English of the Japanese hell figure Datsueba explores her evolution since her eleventh-century emergence as a terrifying old woman who strips the clothes of the dead in the afterworld.
Drawing widely on literature, art, and worship practices, the author reveals how the creative utilization of Datsueba’s key attributes—including a marker of borders, a keeper of cloth, and an elderly woman—transformed her into a guardian of the human journey through life and death and shaped a figure that is diverse and multifaceted, yet also strikingly recognizable across the centuries.
Author:
During the Fifteen Year War, Japan's 'little citizens' were educated via a curriculum centering patriotic and militarist ideologies. Patriotic Pedagogy: How Karuta Game Cards Taught a Japanese War Generation, explores karuta, a poetry card game developed in this period as progressive early childhood pedagogy. As karuta became popular as an educational toy, educators and publishers soon noted karuta's engaging physical play and short slogans and poems made them ideal for conveying patriotic ideals to children.

Including reproductions of the images and translations of the poems, Kelly offers an analysis of the race, class and gender ideologies the cards conveyed, suggesting that these semingly innocuous children's toys were effective tools of a propagandist pedagogy.
Author:
Printed and Painted: The Meiji Art of Ogata Gekkō (1859–1920) is the first English-language publication to offer an in-depth look at the life and career of the Japanese painter and woodblock-print designer Ogata Gekkō. This publication brings together 140 prints and paintings by Gekkō, his students and his contemporaries such as Kawanabe Kyōsai, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi and Yōshū Chikanobu across five subject areas: history and legend; pictures of beautiful women; the natural world, rural and city views; literature and theatre; and modern wars and modern soldiers. The extensive introduction brings to life the character and art of Gekkō, including a translation of a personal account by his accomplished student, the shin-hanga (New Print) artist Yamamura Kōka. An artist often overlooked in discussions of the art of the Meiji period (1868–1912), the publication seeks to highlight the vibrant printed and painted world of the era.
A Topography of Public Bronze Statuary in Modern Japan
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In his pioneering study, Men in Metal, Sven Saaler examines Japanese public statuary as a central site of historical memory from its beginnings in the Meiji period through the twenty-first century. Saaler shows how the elites of the modern Japanese nation-state went about constructing an iconography of national heroes to serve their agenda of instilling national (and nationalist) thinking into the masses. Based on a wide range of hitherto untapped primary sources, Saaler combines data-driven quantitative analysis and in-depth case studies to identify the categories and historical figures that dominated public space. Men in Metal also explores the agents behind this visualized form of the politics of memory and introduces historiographical controversies surrounding statue-building in modern Japan.
The Bokujinkai—or ‘People of the Ink’—was a group formed in Kyoto in 1952 by five calligraphers: Morita Shiryū, Inoue Yūichi, Eguchi Sōgen, Nakamura Bokushi, and Sekiya Yoshimichi. The avant-garde movement they launched aspired to raise calligraphy to the same level of international prominence as abstract painting. To this end, the Bokujinkai collaborated with artists from European Art Informel and American Abstract Expressionism, sharing exhibition spaces with them in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and beyond. The first English-language book to focus on the postwar history of Japanese calligraphy, Bokujinkai: Japanese Calligraphy and the Postwar Avant-Garde explains how the Bokujinkai rerouted the trajectory of global abstract art and attuned foreign audiences to calligraphic visualities and narratives.
300 Years of Japanese Design
Editor:
The Kimono in Print: 300 Years of Japanese Design is the first publication dedicated to the examination of the kimono as a major source of inspiration and experimentation in Japanese print culture from the widely circulated woodblock prints and illustrated books of the Edo period (1603–1868) to the modern design books of the Meiji period (1868–1912). Print and book designers from these eras, such as Hishikawa Moronobu and Kamisaka Sekka, profoundly shaped the ever-evolving trends in material culture and fashion, including the popularization of certain styles of dress and even the creation of kimono designs. Five essays by the leading art and social historians Nagasaki Iwao, Ellis Tinios, Matsuba Ryōko, Fujita Kayoko, and Stephanie Su and a catalogue of about seventy works off er insight into the intersection of the worlds of the Japanese print and kimono as well as their social, cultural, and global import.
Tanaka Ryōhei. Etchings of Rural Japan is the first monograph in English dedicated to the life and oeuvre of Tanaka Ryōhei (1933). Mostly self-taught, Tanaka excelled in the medium of etching. He used this technique to depict the scenery of rural Japan and its gradually disappearing thatched-roof farmhouses. Tanaka made no less than 770 etchings and printed the vast majority of the editions himself – a total of well over 100,000 prints, which found their way to many collections, both public and private, all over the world. Over 130 representative works have been selected for this publication. Japan has a long and rich tradition of printmaking. Whereas 18th- to early 20th-century woodblock prints have been the subject of extensive research, postwar printmaking and etching in Japan have received considerably less attention. While focusing on a single artist, this publication aims to shed light on these lesser-known aspects of Japanese print history. Tanaka Ryōhei, Etchings of Rural Japan includes an elaborate introduction to the technique of etching, enabling the reader to understand and admire Tanaka’s skills as an artist-craftsman.