ART H 309
Japan Vogue: Modern Japanese Art and the West, 1860s-1930s
This course will survey a range of developments in Japan’s visual arts in the Meiji and Taisho periods, with an emphasis on Japan’s complex negotiations with the West and with modern Western art movements. We will review the now-familiar story of Japonisme, or the vogue for “things Japanese,” inspired in large part by Japan’s participation in a series of international exhibitions in the late 19th century. Japanese art—particularly woodblock prints, or ukiyo-e—had a great impact on modern European and American painting, photography and design. In this vein, we will consider the works of Harunobu, Utamaro, Hokusai and Hiroshige in the context of their transmission to the West and their influence on the art and design of such artists as Whistler, Monet, Van Gogh and Louis Comfort Tiffany. We will also bear in mind Japan’s economic, political and artistic response to the West and to Westernization by exploring the institutional structure of modern art in Japan and the phenomenon of “reverse Japonisme.” In this context we will trace the rise and development of Western-style painting (yōga) and neo-traditionalist Japanese-style painting (nihonga), as well as contemporary Japanese crafts manufactured for export. Questions concerning orientalism, national identity, gender, and individuality will be explored in the context of this period of dramatic transformation. Students with no prior Asian art background are welcome.
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