Making Modern Japanese-Style Painting: Kano Hogai and the Search for Images

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

The Western discovery of Japanese paintings at nineteenth-century world’s fairs and export shops catapulted Japanese art to new levels of international popularity. With that popularity, however, came criticism, as Western writers began to lament a perceived end to pure Japanese art and a rise in westernized cultural hybrids. The Japanese response: nihonga, a traditional style of painting that reframed existing techniques to distinguish them from Western artistic conventions. Making Modern Japanese-Style Painting explores the visual characteristics and social functions of nihonga and traces its relationship to the past, its viewers, and emerging notions of the modern Japanese state.

Chelsea Foxwell sheds light on interlinked trends in Japanese nationalist discourse, government art policy, American and European commentary on Japanese art, and the demands of export. The seminal artist Kano Hogai (1828–88) is one telling example: originally a painter for the shogun, his art eventually evolved into novel, eerie images meant to satisfy both Japanese and Western audiences. Rather than simply absorbing Western approaches, nihonga as practiced by Hogai and others broke with pre-Meiji painting even as it worked to neutralize the rupture.

By arguing that fundamental changes to audience expectations led to the emergence of nihonga—a traditional interpretation of Japanese art for a contemporary, international market—Making Modern Japanese-Style Painting offers a fresh look at an important aspect of Japan’s development into a modern nation.
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About the author

Chelsea Foxwell is assistant professor of art history at the University of Chicago.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Jul 20, 2015
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9780226195971
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Asian / General
Art / General
Art / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
History / Asia / Japan
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The Chinese themes of the Four Graybeards of Mt. Shang and the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove figure prominently in the art of Momoyama-period Japan (ca. 1575-1625). Kendall Brown proposes that the dense and multivalent implications of aesthetic reclusion central to these paintings made them appropriate for patrons of all classes - the military, who were presently in power, the aristocracy, who had lost power, and the Buddhist priesthood, who forsook power. These paintings, and their attendant messages, thus serve as dynamic cultural agents that elucidate the fundamental paradigms of early modern Japanese society. Unlike traditional art history studies, which emphasize the style and history of art objects, The Politics of Reclusion sets out to reconstruct the possible historical context for the interpretive reception and use of Chinese hermit themes within a specific period of Japanese art. In emphasizing the political dimension of aesthetic reclusion, it introduces into the field of Japanese art history a discussion of the politics of aesthetics that characterizes recent work in the field of Japanese literature.
By embedding the paintings within the contexts of politics, philosophy, religion, and even gender, this study restores the reflexive relations between the paintings and their culture and, as such, is one of the first extensive intellectual and social histories of Japanese art in a Western language. It is one that will appeal not only to students of art but to those interested in Japanese literature, history, and philosophy.
In this penetrating analysis of a little-explored area of Japanese cultural history, Timon Screech reassesses the career of the chief minister Matsudaira Sadanobu, who played a key role in defining what we think of as Japanese culture today. Aware of how visual representations could support or undermine regimes, Sadanobu promoted painting to advance his own political aims and improve the shogunate's image. As an antidote to the hedonistic ukiyo-e, or floating world, tradition, which he opposed, Sadanobu supported attempts to construct a new approach to painting modern life. At the same time, he sought to revive historical and literary painting, favouring such artists as the flamboyant, innovative Maruyama Okyo. After the city of Kyoto was destroyed by fire in 1788, its reconstruction provided the stage for the renewal of Japan's iconography of power, the consummation of the 'shogun's painted culture'.

“Screech’s ideas are fascinating, often brilliant, and well grounded. . . . [Shogun’s Painted Culture] presents a thorough analysis of aspects of the early modern Japanese world rarely observed in such detail and never before treated to such an eloquent handling in the English language.”—CAA Reviews

“[A] stylishly written and provocative cultural history.”—Monumenta Nipponica

“As in his admirable Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan 1700-1820, Screech lavishes learning and scholarly precision, but remains colloquial in thought and eminently readable.”—Japan Times

Timon Screech is Senior Lecturer in the history of Japanese art at SOAS, University of London, and Senior Research Associate at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. He is the author of several books on Japanese history and culture, including Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan 1700–1820 (Reaktion, 1999).
These days, we take for granted that our computer screens—and even our phones—will show us images in vibrant full color. Digital color is a fundamental part of how we use our devices, but we never give a thought to how it is produced or how it came about.

Chromatic Algorithms reveals the fascinating history behind digital color, tracing it from the work of a few brilliant computer scientists and experimentally minded artists in the late 1960s and early ‘70s through to its appearance in commercial software in the early 1990s. Mixing philosophy of technology, aesthetics, and media analysis, Carolyn Kane shows how revolutionary the earliest computer-generated colors were—built with the massive postwar number-crunching machines, these first examples of “computer art” were so fantastic that artists and computer scientists regarded them as psychedelic, even revolutionary, harbingers of a better future for humans and machines. But, Kane shows, the explosive growth of personal computing and its accompanying need for off-the-shelf software led to standardization and the gradual closing of the experimental field in which computer artists had thrived.

Even so, the gap between the bright, bold presence of color onscreen and the increasing abstraction of its underlying code continues to lure artists and designers from a wide range of fields, and Kane draws on their work to pose fascinating questions about the relationships among art, code, science, and media in the twenty-first century.
The spellbinding story, part fairy tale, part suspense, of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, one of the most emblematic portraits of its time; of the beautiful, seductive Viennese Jewish salon hostess who sat for it; the notorious artist who painted it; the now vanished turn-of-the-century Vienna that shaped it; and the strange twisted fate that befell it.
 
The Lady in Gold, considered an unforgettable masterpiece, one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable paintings, made headlines all over the world when Ronald Lauder bought it for $135 million a century after Klimt, the most famous Austrian painter of his time, completed the society portrait.
 
Anne-Marie O’Connor, writer for The Washington Post, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, tells the galvanizing story of the Lady in Gold, Adele Bloch-Bauer, a dazzling Viennese Jewish society figure; daughter of the head of one of the largest banks in the Hapsburg Empire, head of the Oriental Railway, whose Orient Express went from Berlin to Constantinople; wife of Ferdinand Bauer, sugar-beet baron.
 
The Bloch-Bauers were art patrons, and Adele herself was considered a rebel of fin de siècle Vienna (she wanted to be educated, a notion considered “degenerate” in a society that believed women being out in the world went against their feminine “nature”). The author describes how Adele inspired the portrait and how Klimt made more than a hundred sketches of her—simple pencil drawings on thin manila paper.
 
And O’Connor writes of Klimt himself, son of a failed gold engraver, shunned by arts bureaucrats, called an artistic heretic in his time, a genius in ours.
 
She writes of the Nazis confiscating the portrait of Adele from the Bloch-Bauers’ grand palais; of the Austrian government putting the painting on display, stripping Adele’s Jewish surname from it so that no clues to her identity (nor any hint of her Jewish origins) would be revealed. Nazi officials called the painting, The Lady in Gold and proudly exhibited it in Vienna’s Baroque Belvedere Palace, consecrated in the 1930s as a Nazi institution.
 
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We see how, sixty years after it was stolen by the Nazis, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer became the subject of a decade-long litigation between the Austrian government and the Bloch-Bauer heirs, how and why the U.S. Supreme Court became involved in the case, and how the Court’s decision had profound ramifications in the art world.
 
A riveting social history; an illuminating and haunting look at turn-of-the-century Vienna; a brilliant portrait of the evolution of a painter; a masterfully told tale of suspense. And at the heart of it, the Lady in Gold—the shimmering painting, and its equally irresistible subject, the fate of each forever intertwined.
A brilliant book by Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel, The Age of Insight takes us to Vienna 1900, where leaders in science, medicine, and art began a revolution that changed forever how we think about the human mind—our conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions—and how mind and brain relate to art.
 
At the turn of the century, Vienna was the cultural capital of Europe. Artists and scientists met in glittering salons, where they freely exchanged ideas that led to revolutionary breakthroughs in psychology, brain science, literature, and art. Kandel takes us into the world of Vienna to trace, in rich and rewarding detail, the ideas and advances made then, and their enduring influence today.
 
The Vienna School of Medicine led the way with its realization that truth lies hidden beneath the surface. That principle infused Viennese culture and strongly influenced the other pioneers of Vienna 1900. Sigmund Freud shocked the world with his insights into how our everyday unconscious aggressive and erotic desires are repressed and disguised in symbols, dreams, and behavior. Arthur Schnitzler revealed women’s unconscious sexuality in his novels through his innovative use of the interior monologue. Gustav Klimt, Oscar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele created startlingly evocative and honest portraits that expressed unconscious lust, desire, anxiety, and the fear of death.
 
Kandel tells the story of how these pioneers—Freud, Schnitzler, Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele—inspired by the Vienna School of Medicine, in turn influenced the founders of the Vienna School of Art History to ask pivotal questions such as What does the viewer bring to a work of art? How does the beholder respond to it? These questions prompted new and ongoing discoveries in psychology and brain biology, leading to revelations about how we see and perceive, how we think and feel, and how we respond to and create works of art. Kandel, one of the leading scientific thinkers of our time, places these five innovators in the context of today’s cutting-edge science and gives us a new understanding of the modernist art of Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele, as well as the school of thought of Freud and Schnitzler. Reinvigorating the intellectual enquiry that began in Vienna 1900, The Age of Insight is a wonderfully written, superbly researched, and beautifully illustrated book that also provides a foundation for future work in neuroscience and the humanities. It is an extraordinary book from an international leader in neuroscience and intellectual history.
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