Japanese Modernism

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The first subway in the East (cropped), 1927 Hisui Sugiura, colour lithograph, 2018.1504

Japanese Modernism

Between Earthquake and War

Glamorous department stores, fashionable cafes, popular movie theatres, swinging dance halls and high-tech transportation. During the 1920s and 1930s, Japan’s great metropolises of Tokyo and Osaka pulsated with youthful optimism and creative energy. A new generation of confident and financially liberated youth challenged conservative views and delighted in rocking the establishment by making their own lifestyle choices. Work by day, dance until the early hours of the morning, and take vacations to the beaches in the summer and ski slopes in the winter. This new generation represented the arrival of modernity to Asia and, in turn, became the inspiration, icons and dynamism behind a creative movement that energised Japanese textile production, painting, printmaking, and bronze, lacquer and glass artisanship in the early twentieth century.

This lecture presents the current NGV exhibition Japanese Modernism, discusses some of the fascinating lives of artists exhibited and outlines stories behind establishing this extensive collection of paintings, woodblock prints, fashion, glassware, lacquer ware, bronze ware, posters, magazines and graphic design.

Wayne Crothers is Senior Curator of Asian Art at the National Gallery of Victoria. Prior to joining the NGV in 2009 he engaged in two years research at Kyoto Seika University, completed a Master of Fine Arts at Tama Art University, Tokyo, lectured for six years at Tokyo’s Musashino Art University and held lecturing residencies at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, China; Australian National University, Canberra; Lafayette College, Pennsylvania, USA and the Joan Miro Foundation, Spain. He has curated a number of NGV exhibitions, including Terracotta Warriors: Guardian of Immortality/Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape in 2019, Katsushika Hokusai in 2017; Buddha’s Smile in 2017; Bamboo in 2016; Way of the Samurai in 2014; Negoro Lacquer in 2014 and Tea and Zen in 2010.


How to Register: Registration (only available to current TAASA members) closes Saturday 29th August. Please email Chris Manning (bookings@taasa.org.au) to receive your link to Zoom. Registered participants will be sent the link a day or two before the lecture. If you have not used Zoom before, there is no need to download it in advance. Just follow the prompts after you click on the link that will be sent to you upon registration and your device will download and connect you to Zoom


31 August, 2020
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm AEST
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