Radicals and Realists is the first book in any language to discuss Japan's avant-garde artists, their work, and the historical environment in which they produced it during the two most creative decades of the twentieth century, the 1950s and 1960s. Many of the artists were radicals, rebelling against existing canons and established authority. Yet at the same time they were realists in choosing concrete materials, sounds, and themes from everyday life for their art and in gradually adopting tactics of protest or resistance through accommodation rather than confrontation. Whatever the means of expression, the production of art was never devoid of historical context or political implication. Focusing on the nonverbal genres of painting, sculpture, dance choreography, and music composition, this work shows that generational and political differences, not artistic doctrines, largely account for the divergent stances artists took vis-a-vis modernism, the international arts community, Japan's ties to the United States, and the alliance of corporate and bureaucratic interests that solidified in Japan during the 1960s.After surveying censorship and arts policy during the American occupation of Japan (1945-1952), the narrative divides into two chronological sections dealing with the 1950s and 1960s, bisected by the rise of an artistic underground in Shinjuku and the security treaty crisis of May 1960. The first section treats Japanese artists who studied abroad as well as the vast and varied experiments in each of the nonverbal avant-garde arts that took place within Japan during the 1950s, after long years of artistic insularity and near-stasis throughout war and occupation. Chief among the intellectuals who stimulated experimentation were the art critic Takiguchi Shuzo, the painter Okamoto Taro, and the businessman-painter Yoshihara Jiro. The second section addresses the multifront assault on formalism (confusingly known as anti-art) led by visual artists nationwide. Likewise, composers of both Western-style and contemporary Japanese-style music increasingly chose everyday themes from folk music and the premodern musical repertoire for their new presentations. Avant-garde print makers, sculptors, and choreographers similarly moved beyond the modern--and modernism--in their work. A later chapter examines the artistic apex of the postwar period: Osaka's 1970 world exposition, where more avant-garde music, painting, sculpture, and dance were on display than at any other point in Japan's history, before or since. Radicals and Realists is based on extensive archival research; numerous concerts, performances, and exhibits; and exclusive interviews with more than fifty leading choreographers, composers, painters, sculptors, and critics active during those two innovative decades. Its accessible prose and lucid analysis recommend it to a wide readership, including those interested in modern Japanese art and culture as well as the history of the postwar years.
Tattoo inspiration from the glory days of Japanese ukiyo-e prints
Many tattoo connoisseurs consider the Japanese tradition to be the finest in the world for its detail, complexity and compositional skill. Its style and subject matter are drawn from the visual treasure trove of Japanese popular culture, in particular the color woodblock prints of the early 19th century known as ukiyo-e.
This book tells the fascinating story of how ukiyo-e first inspired tattoo artists as the pictorial tradition of tattooing in Japan was just beginning. It explores the Japanese tattoo's evolving meanings, from symbol of devotion to punishment and even to crime, and reveals the tales behind specific motifs. With lush, colorful images of flowers blooming on the arm of a thief, sea monsters coiling across the back of a hero and legendary warriors battling on the chests of actors, the tattoos in these prints can offer the same vivid inspiration today as they did 200 years ago.
The 153 masterworks illustrated here represent major trends in Japanese art from its prehistory to its recent past. Exploring the religious, social, intellectual, and purely aesthetic values that helped to bring them about, John M. Rosenfield and Shūjirō Shimada provide a thorough historical and aesthetic account of each object.
This book challenges the conventional ideas of art and beauty. What is the value of things made by an anonymous craftsman working in a set tradition for a lifetime? What is the value of handwork? Why should even the roughly lacquered rice bowl of a Japanese farmer be thought beautiful? The late Soetsu Yanagi was the first to fully explore the traditional Japanese appreciation for objects born, not made.Mr. Yanagi sees folk art as a manifestation of the essential world from which art, philosophy, and religion arise and in which the barriers between them disappear. The implications of the author's ideas are both far-reaching and practical. Soetsu Yanagi is often mentioned in books on Japanese art, but this is the first translation in any Western language of a selection of his major writings. The late Bernard Leach, renowned British potter and friend of Mr. Yanagi for fifty years, has clearly transmitted the insights of one of Japan's most important thinkers. The seventy-six plates illustrate objects that underscore the universality of his concepts. The author's profound view of the creative process and his plea for a new artistic freedom within tradition are especially timely now when the importance of craft and the handmade object is being rediscovered.