Modernism and Japanese Culture

Modernism and Japanese Culture

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ffering an in-depth and comprehensive account of the complex history of Japanese modernism, in this book Roy Starrs considers the concept of modernism as encompassing not just the aesthetic avant-garde but a wide spectrum of social, political and cultural phenomena. He looks at Japanese modernism from the mid-19th century 'opening to the West' until the 21st-century, globalized world of 'postmodernism'; from the early Meiji 'cult of modernity' to the early Showa attempt to 'overcome modernity'. In this way, the book presents the history of Japanese modernism not as a straightforward, linear narrative of progressive acceptance and adaptation but more as a dialectical, back-and-forth oscillation between the two poles of acceptance and rejection, modernism and anti-modernism. Furthermore, Starrs shows that Japanese modernism was not simply the outcome of the passive reception of a unidirectional modern Western influence but of a complex cross-cultural interchange between East and West, modernity and tradition. In particular, he shows that traditional Japanese culture was very much part of that cultural mix, and a prime source of inspiration for modernists in both Japan and the West. Thus the book also convincingly demonstrates that Japan served as an active agent at certain key moments in the history of world modernism.

More than 120 articles are presented in a year-by-year structure, with each focusing on a crucial event—from the creation of a seminal work to the opening of a major exhibition—to tell the myriad stories of art from 1900 to the present. Key turning points and breakthroughs in modernism are explored, as are the antimodernist reactions that proposed alternative visions of art and the world. The book's flexible structure and extensive cross-referencing allow readers to follow the many developments in the art world, from the influence of surrealism to the emergence of minimalism. A four-part introduction outlines the methodologies governing the discipline of art history, and two roundtable discussions examine the questions raised by the past while looking ahead to the futur
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