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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 calligraphy movement they launched aspired to raise calligraphy to the same level of international prominence as abstract painting. To realize this vision, the Bokujinkai established creative collaborations with artists from European Art Informel and American Abstract Expressionism, and soon began sharing exhibition spaces with them in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and beyond. By focusing on this exceptional moment in the history of Japanese calligraphy, I show how the Bokujinkai rerouted the trajectory of global abstract art and attuned foreign audiences to calligraphic visualities and narratives.
A Topography of Public Bronze Statuary in Modern Japan
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.
300 Years of Japanese Design
Editor: Vivian Li
The Kimono in Print: 300 Years of Japanese Design will be the first ever publication devoted to examining the kimono as a major source of inspiration, and later vehicle for experimentation, in Japanese print design and culture from the Edo period (1603-1868) to the Meiji period (1868-1912). Print artists, through the wide circulation of prints, have documented the ever-evolving trends in fashion, have popularized certain styles of dress, and have even been known to have designed kimonos. Some famous print designers also were directly involved in the kimono business as designers of kimono pattern books, such as Nishikawa Sukenobu (1671-1751) and Okumura Masanobu (1686-1764). The dialogue between fashion and print is illustrated here by approximately 70 Japanese prints and illustrated books—by Nishikawa Sukenobu, Suzuki Harunobu, Utagawa Kunisada, Kikukawa Eizan, and Kamisaka Sekka, among others. The group of five essays features new research and scholarship by an international group of leading scholars working today at the intersection of the Japanese print and kimono worlds and the social, cultural, and global significances circulated therein.

Abstract

Ever since its inception Japonisme presented a creative tension between local traditions and cross-cultural practices. Adding to this formative relationship was the simultaneous development of Japonisme across Europe, the United States, and Japan itself. This paper focuses on one place of intersection – Limoges – and one medium – ceramics – to identify the local (Limoges’s rich ceramic history), the cross-cultural (French and Japanese influences), and the global (similar practices in other regions). A constellation of producers and collectors inextricably connected Limoges, a centuries-old hub of French ceramics, with the increasingly global realm of japoniste ceramics. How did the Limoges tradition blend with a Paris-based Japonisme in Limoges-produced japoniste ceramics? And what was the international reception of these ceramics? Cross-regional and cross-temporal emulation was a driving force bridging Japonisme with the latest experiments in the arts, from early abstractionism to revisions of hierarchies of genre and medium.

In: Journal of Japonisme

Abstract

The shop run by Madame Desoye at 220, rue de Rivoli in Paris is legendary in Japonisme studies thanks to the writings of Edmond de Goncourt and Philippe Burty, yet the identity of the woman hidden behind this married name, like the extent of her participation in Japoniste activities, has long remained a mystery. The present article draws upon new archival research to provide information about the life of Louise Mélina Desoye, née Chopin (1836-1909) and her important contributions to the first wave of French Japonisme.

In: Journal of Japonisme

Abstract

Japonisme, like today’s Japanese pop culture, is a transcultural phenomenon. In the ‘classical phase of Japonisme’ individual artists were influenced by Japanese art (especially by ukiyo-e woodblock prints) and transcended thematic and compositional adaption: the confrontation with Japanese art sparked a creative process and led to new developments in art. Japonisme became not only an important medium in the development of modern western art, but also attested a cultural transcendence.

In: Journal of Japonisme