The term nihonga (“Japanese painting”) arose in the 1880s, when the notion of a national school of art enjoyed widespread currency. Recently, artists have increasingly probed the boundaries between nihonga and Japanese contemporary art in general, raising doubts about whether nihonga should continue to exist at all. This question is not as new as we might assume. From its earliest years, the idea of modern Japanese-style painting was bound up with images of the death of Japanese art. This begs the question of why, nonetheless, nihonga has enjoyed such a long and prosperous life.
About the Speaker:
Chelsea Foxwell is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago, where she specializes in the history of Japanese art. She is the author of In Search of Images: Kano Hogai and the Making of Modern Japanese-Style Painting (forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press).