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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.
Chinese Narrative Illustration and Confucian Ideology
Mirror of Morality takes an interdisciplinary look at an important form of pictorial art produced during two millennia of Chinese imperial rule. Ideas about individual morality and state ideology were based on the ancient teachings of Confucius with modifications by later interpreters and government institutions. Throughout the imperial period, members of the elite made, sponsored, and inscribed or used illustrations of themes taken from history, literature, and recent events to promote desired conduct among various social groups. This dimension of Chinese art history has never before been broadly covered or investigated in historical context. The first half of the study examines the nature of narrative illustration in China and traces the evolution of its functions, conventions, and rhetorical strategies from the second century BCE through the eleventh century. Under the stimulus of Buddhism, sophisticated techniques developed for representing stories in visual form. While tracing changes in the social functions and cultural positions of narrative illustration, the second half of the book argues that narrative illustration continued to play a vital role in elite visual culture.
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
Seduction, Visual Culture, and the Tokyo Art Directors Club
In a study driven by stunning images of Japanese advertisements and the artworks they quote from, Ory Bartal offers a first-of-its-kind interpretation of the “postmodern” genre of advertising in Japan, which both shaped and reflected the new consumer-driven culture that arose during the bubble era of the 1980s and 1990s. Through a fascinating tale of art directors and their works and influences, Bartal shows how this postmodern visual language, like postmodernism in other streams, is distinguished by its mélange of styles, blurring of boundaries between art and design, and reliance on visual and textual quotations from sources past and present, domestic and foreign. Although this advertising culture partakes of global trends, Bartal draws attention to the varied local artistic sensibilities, structures of thought, and underlying practices, challenging the often-simplistic characterization of “Japaneseness” as being rooted in a Zen tradition of aesthetic indirectness and ambiguity.
Combining multilingual scholarship with a wealth of information gleaned through years of personal interviews with the principals involved, this is a truly original contribution to the discussion of Japanese art and advertising as well as an insightful reading of more general issues in the study of visual culture and media.
Since the mid-1990s Taiwanese artists have been responsible for shaping much of the international contemporary art scene, yet studies on modern Taiwanese art published outside of Taiwan are scarce. The nine essays collected here present different perspectives on Taiwanese visual culture and landscape during the Japanese colonial period (1895–1945), focusing variously on travel writings, Western and Japanese/Oriental-style paintings, architecture, aboriginal material culture, and crafts. Issues addressed include the imagined Taiwan and the "discovery" of the Taiwanese landscape, which developed into the imperial ideology of nangoku (southern country); the problematic idea of "local color," which was imposed by Japanese, and its relation to the "nativism" that was embraced by Taiwanese; the gendered modernity exemplified in the representation of Chinese/Taiwanese women; and the development of Taiwanese artifacts and crafts from colonial to postcolonial times, from their discovery, estheticization, and industrialization to their commodification by both the colonizers and the colonized.
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