Critical Perspectives on Classicism in Japanese Painting, 1600-1700
In the West, classical art—inextricably linked to concerns of a ruling or dominant class—commonly refers to art with traditional themes and styles that resurrect a past golden era. Although art of the early Edo period (1600–1868) encompasses a spectrum of themes and styles, references to the past are so common that many Japanese art historians have variously described this period as a "classical revival," "era of classicism," or a "renaissance." How did seventeenth-century artists and patrons imagine the past? How did classical manners relate to other styles and themes found in Edo art? In considering such questions, the contributors to this volume hold that classicism has been an amorphous, changing concept in Japan—just as in the West. The authors of the essays collected here are by no means unanimous in their assessment of the use of the label "classicism." Although they may not agree on a definition of the term and its applicability to seventeenth-century Japanese art, all recognize the relevance of recent scholarly currents that call into question methods that privilege Western culture. Their various approaches—from stylistic analysis and theoretical conceptualization to assessment of related political and literary trends—greatly increase our understanding of the art of the period and its function in society.
Subjects: History, Art & Art History
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