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Modern Masters of Kyoto : the Transformation of Japanese Painting Traditions, Nihonga From the Griffith and Patricia Way Collection by Michiyo Morioka, Paul Berry

Modern Masters of Kyoto : the Transformation of Japanese Painting Traditions, Nihonga From the Griffith and Patricia Way Collection by Michiyo Morioka, Paul Berry


Seattle, WA : Seattle Art Museum, 1999. Hardcover. 333 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 31 cm. In excellent condition with original dust jacket, has no markings to pages and binding is firm.

The Transformation of Japanese Painting Traditions
Nihonga from the Griffith and Patricia Way
Collection by Michiyo Morioka and Paul Berry

Modern Japanese painting executed in traditional media and formats, or nihonga, developed in the late nineteenth century as artists struggled to preserve cultural continuity in their art while searching for creative expressions to re-fleet Japan's new identity as a modern nation. In addition, the nihonga movement served to distinguish traditional art from Western-style oil painting. In the 1880s and following decades, as various national forums for competitive exhibition developed, Tokyo and Kyoto emerged as strong artistic centers, each characterized by its own distinct historical and cultural background.

Modern Masters of Kyoto presents more than eighty examples of Kyoto nihonga—hanging scrolls, screens, and an album—dating from tbe r86os to the 1940s. Featuring two exceptionally original artists, Tsuji Kako (1870-1931) and his pupil Tomita Keisen (1879-1936), the volume includes works by their predecessors, their contemporaries, and their successors. Collectively their works demonstrate the evolution of Kyoto nihonga in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book introduces Western readers to a range of Kyoto artists from the most famous to the talented but relatively unknown. Their often visually stunning paintings provide a window from which to glimpse both the past and the modern in Japanese art.

In the earlv development of nihonga, Kyoto artists incorporated some elements of Western art, but they were more anchored in tradition than artists in Tokyo. The Kyoto masters achieved true brilliance after tbe turn of the twentieth century. Inspired by the modern concept of individualism and influenced at times by knowledge of contemporary Western art, Kyoto nihonga artists in the Taisho period (1912-26) created strikingly diverse and original expressions with fresh subjects, a daring use of color, and experimental compositions.

Authors Michiyo Morioka and Raul Bern bring to light the extraordinary achievement of Kxoto artists and introduce new perspectives on Kxoto nihonga. I heir cssaxx invite future dialogues on a range ot issues varying from the fundamental definition of nihonga, the relationship betw een nihonga and nanga, a reexamination of the traditional polarization of Tokyo versus Kxoto nihonga. and the emergence of women artists in the field. In a catalogue section, more than forty artists arc introduced with a biography, and featured paintipgs arc discussed in the context of the artists' careers and times. Furthermore, the volume includes essays on the neglected topic of connoisseurship concerning boxes and box inscriptions, plus an appendix of seals and signatures.

Michiyo Morioka (Ph.D., University of Washington! is an independent scholar of Japanese art w ith expertise in nihonga and gender issues in modern Japanese art.

Paul Berry (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is an independent scholar specializing in eighteenth- through twentieth-century Japanese painting. Berry is currently working on wartime art in Japan, and his book on the literati painter Tanomura Chikuden (1777—1835) is in press.

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