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Vol. 58 (2008) through current issue
Archives of Asian Art is an annual journal devoted to the arts of South, Southeast, Central, and East Asia. Each issue presents articles by leading scholars and a selection of outstanding works of Asian art acquired by North American museums during the previous year. The editors attempt to maintain a balanced representation of regions and types of art, as well as a variety of scholarly perspectives.
Ornamentation and Devotion
Since ancient times, Hindus have expressed their love and devotion to their deities through beautiful ornamentation -- dressing and decorating the deities with elaborate clothing, jewelry, and flowers. In this pioneering study of temples in Vrindaban and Jaipur, India, Cynthia Packert takes readers across temple thresholds and into the god Krishna's sacred domain. She describes what devotees see when they behold gorgeously attired representations of the god and why these images look the way they do. She discusses new media as well as global forms of devotion popular in India and abroad. The Art of Loving Krishna opens a universe of meaning in which art, religious action, and devotion are dynamically intertwined.
Essays on Seventeenth-Century Chinese Art Th eory and Criticism
This book investigates the issue of conceptual originality in art criticism of the seventeenth century, a period in which China dynamically reinvented itself. In art criticism, the term which was called upon to indicate conceptual originality more than any other was "qi" 奇, literally, "different"; but secondarily, "odd," like a number and by extension, "the novel," and "extraordinary." This work finds that originality, expressed through visual difference, was a paradigmatic concern of both artists and critics. Burnett speculates on why many have dismissed originality as a possible "traditional Chinese" value, and the ramifications this has had on art historical understanding. She further demonstrates that a study of individual key terms can reveal social and cultural values and provides a linear history of the increase in critical use of "qi" as "originality" from the fifth through the seventeenth centuries, exploring what originality looks like in artworks by members of the gentry elite and commoner classes, and explains how the value lost its luster at the end of the seventeenth century.
Osvald Siren’s Journey into Chinese Art
Finnish-Swedish art historian Osvald Sir413n (1879–1966) was one of the pioneers of Chinese art scholarship in the West. This biography focuses on his four major voyages to East Asia: 1918, 1921-1923, 1929-1930, and 1935. This was a pivotal period in Chinese archaeology, art studies, and the formation of Western collections of Chinese art. Sir413n gained international renown as a scholar of Italian art, particularly with his books on Leonardo da Vinci and Giotto. Yet when he was almost forty years old, he became captivated by Chinese art (paintings of Lohans in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) to such an extent that he decided to start his career anew, in a way. He has left his mark in several fields in Chinese art study: architecture, sculpture, painting, and garden art. This study charts Sir413n’s itineraries during his travels in Japan, Korea, and China. It introduces the various people in those countries as well as in Europe and North America who defined the field in its early stages and were influential as collectors and dealers. Since Sir413n was a theosophist, the book also explores the impact of theosophical ideas in his work.
Yoga, the Western Painting of Japan, 1912 -1955
Maximum Embodiment presents a compelling thesis articulating the historical character of Yoga, literally the “Western painting” of Japan. The term designates what was arguably the most important movement in modern Japanese art from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Perhaps the most critical marker of Yoga was its association with the medium of oil-on-canvas, which differed greatly from the water-based pigments and inks of earlier Japanese painting. Yoga encompassed both establishment fine art and avant-gardist insurgencies, but in both cases, as the term suggests, it was typically focused on techniques, motifs, canons, or iconographies that were obtained in Europe and deployed by Japanese artists. Despite recent advances in Yoga studies, important questions remain unanswered: What specific visuality did the protagonists of Yoga seek from Europe and contribute to modern Japanese society? What qualities of representation were so dearly coveted as to stimulate dedication to the pursuit of Yoga? What distinguished Yoga in Japanese visual culture? This study answers these questions by defining a paradigm of embodied representation unique to Yoga painting that may be conceptualized in four registers: first, the distinctive materiality of oil paint pigments on the picture surface; second, the depiction of palpable human bodies; third, the identification of the act and product of painting with a somatic expression of the artist’s physical being; and finally, rhetorical metaphors of political and social incorporation. The so-called Western painters of Japan were driven to strengthen subjectivity by maximizing a Japanese sense of embodiment through the technical, aesthetic, and political means suggested by these interactive registers of embodiment. Balancing critique and sympathy for the twelve Yoga painters who are its principal protagonists, Maximum Embodiment investigates the quest for embodiment in some of the most compelling images of modern Japanese art. The valiant struggles of artists to garner strongly embodied positions of subjectivity in the 1910s and 1930s gave way to despairing attempts at fathoming and mediating the horrifying experiences of real life during and after the war in the 1940s and 1950s. The very properties of Yoga that had been so conducive to expressing forceful embodiment now produced often gruesome imagery of the destruction of bodies. Combining acute visual analysis within a convincing conceptual framework, this volume provides an original account of how the drive toward maximum embodiment in early twentieth-century Yoga was derailed by an impulse toward maximum disembodiment.
Shōtoku Cults and the Mapping of Medieval Japanese Buddhism
Plotting the Prince traces the development of conceptual maps of the world created through the telling of stories about Prince Shotoku (573?–622?), an eminent statesman who is credited with founding Buddhism in Japan. It analyzes his place in the sacred landscape and the material relics of the cult of personality dedicated to him, focusing on the art created from the tenth to fourteenth centuries. The book asks not only who Shotoku was, but also how images of his life served the needs of devotees in early medieval Japan.
Even today Shotoku evokes images of a half-real, half-mythical figure who embodied the highest political, social, and religious ideals. Taking up his story about four centuries after his death, this study traces the genesis and progression of Shotoku’s sacred personas in art to illustrate their connection to major religious centers such as Shitenno-ji and Horyu-ji. It argues that mapping and storytelling are sister acts—both structuring the world in subtle but compelling ways—that combined in visual narratives of Shotoku’s life to shape conceptions of religious legitimacy, communal history, and sacred geography.
Plotting the Prince introduces much new material and presents provocative interpretations that call upon art historians to rethink fundamental conceptions of narrative and cultic imagery. It offers social and political historians a textured look at the creation of communal identities on both local and state levels, scholars of religion a substantially new way of understanding key developments in doctrine and practice, and those studying the past in general a clear instance of visual hagiography taking precedence over the textual tradition.
72 illus., 32 in color
Evil and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy in Medieval Japanese Buddhism
This is a study of visual and textual images of the mythical creature tengu from the late Heian (897–1185) to the late Kamakura (1185–1333) periods. Popularly depicted as half-bird, half-human creatures with beaks or long noses, wings, and human bodies, tengu today are commonly seen as guardian spirits associated with the mountain ascetics known as yamabushi. In the medieval period, however, the character of tengu most often had a darker, more malevolent aspect. Haruko Wakabashi focuses in this study particularly on tengu as manifestations of the Buddhist concept of Māra (or ma), the personification of evil in the form of the passions and desires that are obstacles to enlightenment. Her larger aim is to investigate the use of evil in the rhetoric of Buddhist institutions of medieval Japan. Through a close examination of tengu that appear in various forms and contexts, Wakabayashi considers the functions of a discourse on evil as defined by the Buddhist clergy to justify their position and marginalize others.
Early chapters discuss Buddhist appropriations of tengu during the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries in relation to the concept of ma. Multiple interpretations of ma developed in response to changes in society and challenges to the Buddhist community, which recruited tengu in its efforts to legitimize its institutions. The highlight of the work discusses in detail the thirteenth-century narrative scroll Tengu zōshi (also known as the Shichi Tengu-e, or the Seven Tengu Scrolls), in which monks from prominent temples in Nara and Kyoto and leaders of “new” Buddhist sects (Pure Land and Zen) are depicted as tengu. Through a close analysis of the Tengu zōshi’s pictures and text, the author reveals one aspect of the critique against Kamakura Buddhism and how tengu images were used to express this in the late thirteenth century. She concludes with a reexamination of the meaning of tengu and a discussion of how ma was essentially socially constructed not only to explain the problems that plague this world, but also to justify the existence of an institution that depended on the presence of evil for its survival.
Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, Wakabayashi provides a thoughtful and innovative analysis of history and religion through art. The Seven Tengu Scrolls will therefore appeal to those with an interest in Japanese art, history, and religion, as well as in interdisciplinary approaches to socio-cultural history.
36 illus., 4 in color
Perspectives on the Japanese Visual Arts, 1868-2000
Research outside Japan on the history and significance of the Japanese visual arts since the beginning of the Meiji period (1868) has been, with the exception of writings on modern and contemporary woodblock prints, a relatively unexplored area of inquiry. In recent years, however, the subject has begun to attract wide interest. As is evident from this volume, this period of roughly a century and a half produced an outpouring of art created in a bewildering number of genres and spanning a wide range of aims and accomplishments. Since Meiji is the first sustained effort in English to discuss in any depth a time when Japan, eager to join in the larger cultural developments in Europe and the U.S., went through a visual revolution. Indeed, this study of the visual arts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries suggests a fresh history of modern Japanese culture—one that until now has not been widely visible or thoroughly analyzed outside that country.
In this extensive collection, which includes some 190 black-and-white and color reproductions, scholars from Japan, Europe, Australia, and America explore an impressive array of subjects: painting, sculpture, prints, fashion design, crafts, and gardens. The works discussed range from early Meiji attempts to create art that referenced Western styles to postwar and contemporary avant-garde experiments. There are, in addition, substantive investigations of the cultural and intellectual background that helped stimulate the creation of new and shifting art forms, including essays on the invention of a modern artistic vocabulary in the Japanese language and the history of art criticism in Japan, as well as an extensive account of the career and significance of perhaps the best-known Japanese figure concerned with the visual arts of his period, Okakura Tenshin (1862–1913), whose Book of Tea is still widely read today.
Taken together, the essays in this volume allow readers to connect ideas and images, thus bringing to light larger trends in the Japanese visual arts that have made possible the vitality, range, and striking achievements created during this turbulent and lively period.
Contributors: Stephen Addiss, Chiaki Ajioka, John Clark, Ellen Conant, Mikiko Hirayama, Michael Marra, Jonathan Reynolds, J. Thomas Rimer, Audrey Yoshiko Seo, Eric C. Shiner, Lawrence Smith, Shuji Tanaka, Reiko Tomii, Mayu Tsuruya, Toshio Watanabe, Gennifer Weisenfeld, Bert Winther-Tamaki, Emiko Yamanashi.
164 illus., 30 in color