Charting Japan’s unique engagement with modernity during the Meiji era, through an extraordinary selection of objects in American collections
This exhibition catalogue takes a fresh look at the art of Japan’s Meiji era (1868–1912), through a vivid selection of approximately 175 objects drawn from early public and private collections across the United States, including newly discovered prints, photographs, textiles, paintings, and craft objects. Featuring motifs such as the sea and nature, Buddhist deities, contemporary life, and mythical animals, Meiji Modern highlights these themes and their transformation with the introduction of newly imported techniques and materials at the intersection of art, industry, and society. The Meiji era was a complex period of unprecedented cultural and technological transition that played out in the context of intense global competition. The objects assembled in this stunning catalogue also document the history of American collections of nineteenth-century Japanese art. Highlighting the active role of art in the construction of the Japanese nation-state, the works in a variety of mediums capture the hopes and aspirations of Japanese modernization along with its challenges. Building upon this perspective, essays emphasize modern Japanese artists’ engagement with both European and Asian trends. With its focus on Japan’s often overlooked non-Western modernity, this publication also addresses the role of art in both constructing and reflecting identity.
Distributed for the Japanese Art Society of America
Asia Society, New York (October 3, 2023–January 7, 2024)
Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago (March 21–June 9, 2024)
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (July 7–September 15, 2024)
Chelsea Foxwell is associate professor of art history, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College at the University of Chicago. Bradley M. Bailey is Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Curator of Asian Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
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