The Western discovery of Japanese paintings at nineteenth-century world's fairs and in export shops catapulted Japanese art to new heights of international popularity. With that popularity came criticism, as Western writers began to lament a perceived end to pure Japanese art and a rise in westernized cultural hybrids. The Japanese resonse: nihonga, a traditional style of painting reframed for a contemporary international market. Making Modern Japanese-Style Painting explores the visual characteristics and social functions of nihonga and traces its relations to the past, its viewers, and emerging notions of the modern Japanese state. Chelsea Foxwell sheds light on interlinked trends in Japanese government art policy, American and European commentary on Japanese art, and the demands of export. The seminal artist Kano Hōgai (1828-1888) is one telling example: originally produced 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 Hōgai and others broke with pre-Meiji painting even as it worked to neutralize the rupture. By arguing that fundamental changes in audience expectation led to the emergence of nihonga, Making Modern Japanese-Style Painting offers a fresh look at an important aspect of Japan's development into a modern nation. -- from dust jacket.
Introduction : Nihonga and the historical inscription of the modern -- Exhibitions and the making of modern Japanese painting -- In search of images -- The painter and his audiences -- Decadence and the emergence of Nihonga style -- Naturalizing the double reading -- Transmission and the historicity of Nihonga -- Conclusion
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