In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Introduction
  • Reiko Tomii (bio)

Founded in 2003 by Miwako Tezuka and myself, PoNJA-GenKon is a scholarly listserv for a wide range of people interested in postwar Japanese art history, from graduate students to scholars, from collectors to museum and other art professionals, with English as our shared language. The acronym is taken from Post-Nineteen forty-five Japanese Art History Discussion Group / Gendai Bijutsu Kondankai (現代美術懇談会). Over the past decade, as an active forum for exchanging ideas and information, PoNJA-GenKon (ポンジャ現懇 in Japanese) has grown to more than 200 registered members ( In essence a virtual presence on the Internet, we have however, made a conscious effort to embrace and encourage new research in a more concrete and physical form by organizing and co-organizing panels, symposiums, and conferences. This effort has resulted in six such programs (see Table), followed by the most recent symposium that celebrated our tenth anniversary in September 2014. It is gratifying to report that "Ponja" today signifies shorthand for both the group itself and our field of study in reflection of our continuing presence and contribution to the disciplines of art history and museology.

The 10th anniversary symposium embraced the traditions that had begun with our very first program in 2005. We have collaborated with other academic and museological institutions to create a forum for discussion; we have collaborated with specialists outside the field (mainly as discussants), in order to expand our communicative reaches; we have incorporated artist-practitioners in our programing (often through video/film screenings and live performance presentations) in recognition that the foundation of our study has been built upon these artists' creativity; and we have presented a wide range of topics, perspectives, and methodologies offered by both graduate students and professionals (see Program Summary and Abstracts).

The tenth anniversary has offered us a rare moment of reflection. Looking back, we can see two momentums that propelled the evolution of Ponja in the English-speaking [End Page 248] sphere. The first centers on Alexandra Munroe's landmark exhibition in 1994, Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky, and especially its English-language publication (published by Abrams), which has come to serve as a textbook for the subject. This publication was a substantial expansion of the initial English-Japanese bilingual exhibition catalogue issued by the Yokohama Art Museum, which originated with the exhibition before it traveled to the United States. I myself was immensely inspired by this publication (for which I served as a de facto editor as well as a contributor), as were more than a handful of graduate students, who would later tell me the impact the book and the exhibition had on their work. Munroe's work forms the basis for what I call the first wave of Ponja scholarship, along with my subsequent work on 1960s art in Japan (including my contribution to the 1999 and 2001 exhibitions Global Conceptualism and Century City), and the work of early colleagues such as Bert Winther-Tamaki (including his 2001 book, Art in the Encounter of Nations: Japanese and American Artists in the Early Postwar Years).

The second momentum of Ponja scholarship surrounds the expansion of the field by the scholars and graduate students inspired by the first wave. The early signs of vitality were observed with Midori Yoshimoto's 2005 book, Into Performance: Japanese Women Artists in New York. By the early 2010s, the second wave surged, with a series of exhibitions and publications: Ming Tiampo's 2011 book Gutai: Decentering Modernism, Mika Yoshitake's 2012 exhibition and catalogue Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha, and Tiampo and Munroe's 2013 exhibition and catalogue Gutai: Splendid Playground.

This understanding of Ponja's development has informed the title of the tenth anniversary symposium: "For a New Wave to Come: Post-1945 Japanese Art History Now." In order to create a new momentum for continuing expansion of the field, we have sought to identify developing research and ideas. In curating the program, we have emphasized two aspects of postwar Japanese art history, and by casting a wide net, we have endeavored to expand on the hitherto understudied period of the...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 248-260
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.