- Voices of Mono-ha Artists:Contemporary Art in Japan, Circa 1970
This issue of the Review of Japanese Culture and Society inaugurates the special feature section “Art in Focus,” with Reiko Tomii serving as Section Editor. Over the years the Review has featured issues devoted to art and art history including “Japanese Art: The Scholarship and Legacy of Chino Kaori,” edited by Melissa McCormick (vol. XV); “1960s Japan: Art Outside the Box,” edited by Reiko Tomii (vol. XVII); “Expo ‘70 and Japanese Art: Dissonant Voices,” edited by Midori Yoshimoto (vol. XXIII); and “Beyond Tenshin: Okakura Kakuzō’s Multiple Legacies,” edited by Noriko Murai and Yukio Lippit (vol. XXIV). Although art is a specialized discipline, it has a broad range of sister disciplines—architecture, design, and visual culture, to name just a few—and interdisciplinary scholarship is one of the most exciting recent developments in the field of art history. Another important development is the robust presence of contemporary Japanese art in today’s globalizing culture, which poses a new set of questions to scholars of art history and its sister fields. The Review has therefore decided to institute the “Art in Focus” section as a regular feature of the journal in order to have a sustained and timely engagement with the fast-evolving field of art historical study.
The inaugural focus is “Voices of Mono-ha Artists: Contemporary Art in Japan, Circa 1970,” based on a symposium of the same title held at the University of Southern California on February 24, 2012 (pl.1). The program was organized by Miya Elise Mizuta and Reiko Tomii and presented by the University of Southern California’s Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture in association with PoNJA-GenKon (a scholarly listserv for postwar Japanese art; www.ponja-genkon.net), and in conjunction with the exhibition Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha, held at Blum & Poe from February 25 to April 14, 2012.
The artist participants were Haraguchi Noriyuki, Koshimizu Susumu, Lee Ufan, Sekine Nobuo, and Suga Kishio. The group of scholars who engaged the Mono-ha artists [End Page 200] in discussion was headed by Mika Yoshitake, Assistant Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washingon, D.C., who curated the exhibition Requiem for the Sun, and Reiko Tomii, an independent scholar and a co-founder of PoNJA-GenKon. They worked together with Joan Kee, Assistant Professor in the History of Art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Hollis Goodall, Curator of Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The team was assisted by Rika Iezumi Hiro, a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at the University of Southern California, who served as an interpreter for the artists.
Part of the inaugural programming of the Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture, the event was realized with the generous financial support of The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles, USC’s Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and USC’s East Asian Studies Center. Blum & Poe helped coordinate the event to coincide with the opening of the exhibit at their gallery.
Thanks to Registrars Sam Kahn and Minna Schilling at Blum & Poe and the staff of Fergus McCaffery for their assistance with image rights and reproductions.
Images courtesy and © the artists unless otherwise noted. [End Page 201]
Reiko Tomii is an independent art historian, who investigates post-1945 Japanese art in global and local contexts. Her research topic encompasses “international contemporaneity,” collectivism, and conceptualism in 1960s art, as demonstrated by her contribution to Global Conceptualism (Queens Museum of Art, 1999), Century City (Tate Modern, 2001), and Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art (Getty Research Institute, 2007). She has worked closely with numerous artists including Yayoi Kusama, Xu Bing, and Ushio Shinohara. She is currently preparing a book-length manuscript, The Rise of Gendai Bijutsu: International Contemporaneity and 1960s Art in Japan, to be published by MIT Press.