Modern Japan History Workshop on Government-Sponsored Art Exhibitions - Friday, March 13th

Joelle Tapas's picture

Please join us for the next meeting of the Modern Japan History Workshop on Friday, March 13th at 6:00 pm.  Our presenter this month will be Nicole Valentova (SOAS), who will present her work on government-sponsored art exhibitions (details below).

We will meet in Room 110 in the Komaba International Building for Education and Research (KIBER, 駒場国際教育研究棟) at the University of Tokyo’s Komaba I Campus (campus map available here).

The workshop is open to all, and directions to the venue are available here.

Please direct any questions to Joelle Tapas at tapas@fas.harvard.edu.  We hope to see you there!
 

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Bunten: The First Official Government-Sponsored Art Exhibition and the Significance of its Political Affiliation

Nicole Valentova, SOAS

After the Meiji Restoration, in an attempt to identify and generate objects worth representing Japan and creating a strong and attractive presence at the international expositions, the government organised an event similar in nature on a domestic scale; altogether five Domestic Industrial Expositions (J: naikoku kangyō hakurankai) between 1877 and 1903, and the Tōkyō Industrial Exposition (J: Tokyo kangyō hakurankai) organised by the magistrate in spring 1907. Fine art was an integral part of the fair, however, the emphasis on export and the trade enhancement was a considerably limiting factor. It was not until autumn 1907 that an exhibition liberated from this export-driven framework focusing on the contemporary art production, support and supply for domestic market was established by a political institution, the Ministry of Education. It was the Ministry of Education Art Exhibition (J: monbushō bijutsu tenrankai), commonly known as Bunten, that is widely credited for uniting the fragmented Japanese art scene while serving as a battlefield for the progressive faction shinpa and the conservative faction kyūha. During this presentation we shall have a look at what led to the establishment, what was the relationship between Bunten and the government, and if the exhibition’s political affiliation affected the selection of the exhibited art.