|■Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation Science
|■Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage
The year 2019 witnessed the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (Great Thanksgiving Ceremony). These great imperial ceremonies marked the change of the era from Heisei to Reiwa. The memory of the events is still vivid in our hearts. The graceful attire used in those ceremonies must have captivated many of you. How have a series of events that remind us of ancient ceremonies been passed down through the five eras namely the Meiji, Taisho, Showa, Heisei, and Reiwa eras? The presentation, “Imperial ceremonies in modern ages and the usages or practices of the court or military households,” by Mr. TANAKA Jun, a Visiting Researcher, in the seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on June 23rd, 2020, depicted a few aspects of “the tradition” of the Imperial Household in the modern and present age.
Western dress has become common even in the Imperial Household since the Meiji Era, limiting the attire of the Imperial Household to be only used in religious services and rites. Whereas the reduction of the usage of the attire threatened its discontinuation, research on the usages or practices of the court or military households began to increase in importance to avoid such a situation and the result of the research has played an important role in each imperial ceremony. As we compare the attire used in imperial ceremonies in different eras, it can be observed that it has been through not a few changes which can be attributed to visual effects and the question of expense. Mr. TANAKA’s presentation made me recognize the existence of something very common between the manner of imperial ceremonies handing down images of “tradition” while flexibly corresponding to the needs of the ages and the manner of conserving and handing down tangible and intangible cultural properties.
This seminar convened approximately four months after the previous one with a recess in between caused by spread of the new coronavirus. As a preventive measure against viral infection, the venue was changed from the seminar room on the second floor to the seminar hall on the basement level to avoid a crowded place and close contact.
From INOUE Kaoru’s catalog of collection, “Segaian Kanshō” (owned by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)
INOUE Kaoru (1835–1915) was a politician with tremendous influence in the political and business circles during the Meiji period. During the disturbances before the Meiji Restoration, he emerged as a leader of the anti-foreigner movement in his native Choshu domain, and served in several important positions in the new Meiji government, such as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Home Affairs. He is well known for leading the Westernizing policies, including Rokumeikan diplomacy, and was also a man of refined tastes who enjoyed the tea ceremony with tea masters from the business world, such as MASUDA Takashi (called MASUDA Don-oh). He collected masterpieces of oriental art, including “Momohato-zu (Pigeon on a Peach Branch)” presumedly painted by Emperor Huizong of Song. The presentation titled “Meiji Culture and INOUE Kaoru,” delivered by Dr. YODA Toru (Chief of Curators’ Section, Toyama Memorial Museum) for the 9th seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on January 21st, 2020, highlighted Inoue’s significance in cultural history.
It is said that Inoue started collecting antiques in the early Meiji period. During the 1880s, he acquired “Jūichimen Kannonzō (Eleven-Headed Kannon, Skt. Ekadasamukha),” an excellent Buddhist artwork from the Heian period, presently owned by the Nara National Museum. He sometimes acquired masterpieces in an ungentlemanly manner as well, and published a catalog of his collection tilted “Segaian Kanshō (Appreciation of Segaian)” in 1912. Earlier, he also had invited Emperor Meiji home in 1887, and played an important role in entertainment history by showing him a Kabuki program performed by ICHIKAWA Danjuro IX as well as interacting with the comic storyteller SANYUTEI Encho.
After the presentation by Dr. Yoda, which revealed Inoue’s involvement in Japanese culture from diverse perspectives, Mr. SAITO Yasuhiko (Professor Emeritus at the University of Yamanashi), Mr. TANAKA Sendo (Director of Santokuan), and Dr. TSUKAMOTO Maromitsu (Associate Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, the University of Tokyo) joined the discussion. How Inoue developed his aesthetic sense while working hard as a politician is still not known though. Future research is expected to focus on his various aspects veiled in mystery.
KUME Keiichiro (left) and KURODA Seiki during their study in France
Part of the letter written to KUME Kei-ichiro by KURODA Seiki dated on April 1st, 1895, which includes the view of marriage expressed partially in French by him right after his marriage
KURODA Seiki (1866-1924) and KUME Keiichiro (1866-1934), who learned oil painting from Raphael COLLIN––an academic painter in France––were close friends and shared an atelier. After returning to Japan, they founded a new fine art association named Hakubakai. Through their involvement in art education and administration, they endeavored to innovate and develop the sphere of Japanese oil painting.
The Kume Museum of Art, which owns and publishes the works and materials of KUME Keiichiro, and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, which was founded with the inheritance of KURODA Seiki, began joint research in 2016 in order to investigate the materials pertaining to their friendship. The letters exchanged between them particularly attract attention as materials that illustrate their social and professional friendship. The 7th seminar titled “Reading the Letters Written by KURODA Seiki and KUME Keiichiro” was organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on December 10th, 2019. SHIOYA Jun of the Institute delivered a presentation regarding the letters written to Kume by Kuroda, while Ms. ITO Fumiko of the Kume Museum of Art addressed the letters written to Kuroda by Kume.
The letters investigated by this research were written from the 1890s until 1925, after they returned to Japan from France. They wrote not in the epistolary style used generally at that time, but in a colloquial style to report their productions’ progress and their travel impressions. They occasionally wrote in French to secretly pour forth their feelings. In 1910 and 1911, Kume visited the UK to do clerical work for the association for exhibits for the Japan-British Exhibition. The letters written during the period¬¬––in which he detailed the exhibition, the reunion with Mr. Collin, and interaction with local painters––represent the network of oil painters of that time.
After the presentation, two Visiting Researchers who helped us reprint the letters, Mr. TANAKA Jun and Mr. SAITO Tatsuya, joined the opinion exchange. We will release the outcomes of this research in “The Journal of Art Studies,” which will be published in the next fiscal year.
Portrait of Takurei HIRAKO (taken in 1908)
From the notes of Takurei HIRAKO, a sketch of Kongo-o-bosatsu (Vajrarāja) at Kongobuji Temple on Mt. Koya which burned down in 1926. Takurei often drew sketches of the ears of Buddhist statues.
Takurei HIRANO (1877–1911) is a Buddhist art researcher who was active between the 1890s and the 1900s. He began working for the Tokyo Imperial Museum (present day Tokyo National Museum) from 1903 and was active in the front lines of research at that time, such as through his involvement in the issue of rebuilding Horyuji Temple. He died young at the age of 35 in 1911.
In 2014, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties received some materials in the possession of Takurei’s sculptor friend Taketaro SHINKAI (1868–1927) which included Takurei’s research notes. At the seminar which was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on May 31st, 2019, Dr. Tetsuei TSUDA (Aoyama Gakuin University) gave a presention on these research notes from the perspective of Buddhist art history titled, “Introduction to Research Materials: The Notes of Takurei HIRAKO Housed at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.”
These notes include numerous sketches of Buddhist statues and paintings that Takuei drew at various temples in the Kansai area. Among them are detailed drawings of Buddhist statues that have now been lost and are a valuable resource for today’s researchers. In a notebook bound in Japanese style titled Kogeishiso can be found the inscription on a Buddhist statue thought to have been recorded by Takurei during its disassembly and repair. This is an example of rare information that cannot be discovered without performing similar repairs on Buddhist statues.
After Dr. TSUDA’s presentation, Dr. Shuji TANAKA (Oita University) a specialist on modern sculpture described the relationship between Taketaro SHINKAI and Takurei, and Ms. Junko ONISHI (Tokyo University of the Arts) who is knowledgeable about the modern history of Buddhist art research described the network of researchers surrounding Takurei at the time, and information was shared. Dr. Yuzo MARUKAWA (National Museum of Ethnology) a specialist on informatics also participated in a discussion on how this material should be released and applied.
Scene of the seminar
It can be said that what plays a major role in the world of visual arts is each piece of art created by an artist. However, it is also true that such people as artists, critics, and researchers talking with each other over pieces of art to value them comprise an essential part of the entire visual art world. The numerous remarks delivered by such people are important clues to understanding the visual arts in the era. Akihiko TAKAMI (born in 1955) who passed away suddenly at the age of 55 in 2011 was among the critics who devoted themselves to art criticism. At a seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on April 23rd, 2019, Mr. Koji KUROKAWA from Sakura City Museum of Art made a presentation about Takami’s activities as an aggressive critic.
Mr. Kurokawa’s presentation titled “Art Critic Akihiko Takami’s Activities and Archives” was based on his careful investigation of many source materials in Takami’s archives such as manuscripts written by Takami and letters he exchanged with artists. The remaining preserved copies of Takami’s letters to artists show that he supported many young artists in their creative activities by spontaneously organizing exhibitions as a planner while writing several reviews in magazines such as BIJUTSUTECHO. At the seminar, the participants including Mr. Toshiya MOTAI, an artist who had a close relationship with Takami, openly discussed how these archives should be utilized going forward while tracing the footsteps of Akihiko Takami as an art critic. Many of the archives contain some information about artists or critics currently active in the art world and thus careful consideration must be given before disclosing them in some cases. During the discussion, the participants including Mr. Motai expressed their thoughts from different standpoints and it was a good opportunity to find a way to handle and effectively use Akihiko Takami’s archives.
Oleg Loshakov (1936–) (produced between 1989 and 1995). The distant mountain on the right is the snowcapped Mt. Chachadake on Kunashir Island.
In recent years, neighboring countries such as China, South Korea, and Taiwan have made progress in researching modern and contemporary art, and opportunities to view this progress, such as at exhibitions, have increased in Japan. However, brisk artistic activities have largely been unheard of in the North of Japan, even in regions such as Sakhalin which is presently Russian territory. Mr. Hisashi YAKOU’s (Hokkaido University) presentation at a seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on March 26th entitled, “The Art of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands” was very fascinating as he described artistic trends in this region based on field work after the Second World War.
As Sakhalin was a Japanese territory prior to the Second World War, the landscape was depicted by Japanese painters such as Shoji KIMURA (1905–91) and Kojiro FUNAZAKI (1900–87). It became a territory of the Soviet Union after the war, and Russian painters created motifs based on this region. The painter Givi Mantkava (1930–2003) who moved there from Georgia depicted the landscape of the Far East, applying a modernistic technique and laid the foundation of Sakhalin art. Numerous artists from Moscow and Vladivostok visited Kunashir (Kunashiri) Island and Shikotan Island. Among them, the activities of the Shikotan Group attracted particular attention as they spent several months of almost every summer in Shikotan Island from 1966 to 1991. Of their works, landscape paintings of Mt. Chachadake on Kunashir Island and the bay area in particular are suggestive of traditional western paintings themes, for example, on a view of Naples. Mr. YAKOU made the intriguing point that there may exist a political intent in terms of the Europeanization of the border area.
Cover of “KURODA SEIKI: A Selection from the Kuroda Memorial Hall Collection”
The Kuroda Memorial Hall, one of the exhibition facilities of the Tokyo National Museum (TNM), was originally built as the Institute of Art Research, the predecessor of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP). The memorial hall for works of Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924), a Western-style painter who was active from the late 1800s to early 1900s, was built in 1930, with his works being donated by members of his family. Against this background, even after ownership of the memorial hall was transferred to the TNM, TNRICP continued its research into the artist.
Now, TNM and TNRICP have edited and produced a guide entitled “KURODA SEIKI: A Selection from the Kuroda Memorial Hall Collection,” to help visitors to the memorial hall appreciate his works. This 40-page guide describes his 46 main works, such as Lakeside and Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment, with color illustrations and easy to understand explanations of the masterpieces and paintings by the artist, known in Japan as “the father of modern Japanese western-style painting”. (Price: \700 including tax; for inquiries, contact Insho-sha, Sho Bldg. 7th floor, 3-14-5 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0027; Tel.: 03-6225-2277). We would be pleased if this guide can help you to appreciate his works when you visit the memorial hall.
Mr. Tamon MIKI (Photographed in 1993)
The manuscript titled “Movements in the World of Sculpture in ‘91” written for the December issue in 1991 of “Sansai,” an art magazine, and its printed page
Mr. Tamon MIKI, who passed away in April 2018 at the age of 89, wrote as an aggressive critic in modern and contemporary art with focus on sculpture. After working for the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and the Cultural Properties Protection Department of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, he held directorial posts at the National Museum of Art, Osaka, the Tokushima Modern Art Museum, and the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum.
His bereaved family has indicated their intention to donate his manuscripts related to fine arts to the Institute through an intermediary, Ms. Eri NAKAYAMA working as a curator for the Koriyama City Museum of Art. The manuscripts include valuable materials regarding the postwar art trends, in addition to his achievements such as fine art articles written for newspapers and magazines, notebooks with records of his overseas visits in detail, and scrapbooks to organize handouts for exhibitions held at galleries. After they are filed at this institute, they will be accessible for browsing and utilization as research materials.
Open Seminar: “Toward Sharing Information on Art Magazines”; On-going Discussion
One of the sources for information regarding any exhibition or art museum is the art magazine. In recent times, there has been an increasing use of TV or the internet as an information source. However, before TV and the internet became popular and accessible to all, the art magazine, regularly published with pictures of various works of art, was a visual and immediate source for transmitting/supplying information to persons involved in the fine arts and art lovers. In the research on Japanese modern art, these art magazines play an important role as materials that reflect the details of the trends and movements in the fine arts of the time. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is a rich source of information as numerous art magazines published in the Meiji era and thereafter are in its possession. An open seminar titled “Toward Sharing Information on Art Magazines” was held on March 16th to provide an opportunity for participants to discuss the organization, publication, and sharing of such information.
In this seminar, the following three researchers specialized in Japanese modern art delivered presentations, whose titles are as shown below:
○Jun SHIOYA (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties): “Art Magazines of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties – History of Its Collection and Publication”
○Shogo OHTANI (The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo): “Another Art Scene in the Period from the Mid-1930s to the Mid-1940s from “Nikkan Bijutsu Tsushin (Daily Art Journal)”
○Hitoshi MORI (Kanazawa College of Art): “The Art Magazine – Its Value and the Obstacles to its Production”
Mr. Shioya unveiled the Institute’s history of collecting art magazines and described the project started by its predecessor, The Institute of Art Research, in 1932, to compile the art history of the Meiji and Taisho eras and the project to publish the “Yearbook of Japanese Art” initiated in 1936. Then, Mr. Ohtani pointed out the scarcity and the significance of the art industry journal published from 1935 through 1943, “Nikkan Bijutsu Tsushin (Daily Art Journal)” (the title was changed to “Bijutsu Bunka Simbun (Art Culture Newspaper)” in 1941), by introducing its articles on reorganization of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and the inside story of the organization that led to it publicly seeking works for its exhibition. Finally, Mr. Mori presented a comprehensive view on the friction between the concepts of “fine arts” and “magazine” brought in from Western Europe and the scope of Japanese pre-modern art, after presenting an overview of modern art magazines.
After the presentations, the three researchers held an active discussion together with Mr. Hideki KIKKAWA (Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) as the MC taking questions on the presentations from the audience and settling on the proposed ways of sharing information using art magazines as a topic. In addition, Mr. Kikkawa mentioned how there has been steady progress regarding international information sharing among art magazines, and he introduced the efforts of the Institute, such as (a) a joint project with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures to build a database of Japanese fine arts literature mentioned in European magazines; (b) providing metadata of “Mizue” published in the Meiji era for the Getty Research Portal operated by the Getty Research Institute; and (c) uploading “The Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies)” and “Yearbook of Japanese Art” on JAIRO, operated by the National Institute of Informatics.
The seminar, which functioned as a site to exchange valuable information, attracted 80 persons involved in archive operations at art museums, universities, and publishing and other companies. Related to the presentation by Mr. Mori, a book editorially supervised by him and containing information on art magazines from the Meiji era through the pre-war period of the Showa era, will be published soon by TOKYO BIJUTSU Co., Ltd. titled “Overview of Japanese Art Magazines 1867-1945” (temporary title).
On-going seminar organized by the Sainsbury Institute
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in Norwich, UK is one of the hubs for the study of Japanese arts and cultures in Europe. The Sainsbury Institute and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties have been jointly engaged since 2013 in the Project to Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art. As part of the project, researchers of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems annually visit the Sainsbury Institute to offer consultation on the project and deliver a lecture. In the FY 2017, three researchers, Jun SHIOYA, Takuyo YASUNAGA, and Tomohiro OYAMADA, stayed in Norwich from February 13th through 16th, 2018 for that purpose.
As for consultation, we discussed the measures to be taken for the development of this project with Dr. Simon KANER, Head of the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage, and the staff members at the Sainsbury Institute, Mr. Akira HIRANO, Ms. Keiko NISHIOKA, and Ms. Miwako HAYASHI. Specifically, we talked about the English translation of the “Year Book of Japanese Art” (published annually by this Institute), improvement of the quality of basic information available on the names of Japanese writers included in the database, and so on.
On February 15th, a lecture by Jun SHIOYA was held at the Weston Room of Norwich Cathedral. This was organized as part of the monthly seminar for general audience held on the third Thursday by the Sainsbury Institute. A researcher from this Institute annually delivers a lecture there since 2014. Jun SHIOYA made a presentation titled “Respect, Curiosity and Taboo – Differing Visual Expressions of the Meiji Emperor,” which was interpreted by Dr. Kaner. Based on the book titled “Art History of the Imperial Court 6” (published by Yoshikawa Kobunkan), for which Jun SHIOYA served as a representative author, he discussed the development and the limits of the visual expressions of the emperor in modern Japan by introducing a discussion on the portraits of the Meiji Emperor by Ms. Keiko MASHINO. These portraits are placed in the book while referring to the lese majesty, which was believed to have been committed by a journalist named Gaikotsu MIYATAKE, and the caricature of the Meiji Emperor in Europe. The seminar attracted an audience of around 80 people, including researchers such as Mr. Toshio WATANABE, Emeritus Professor at University of the Arts London and Professor at the University of East Anglia, and Dr. Barak KUSHNER, Associate Professor at the University of Cambridge, in addition to regular local participants. During the Q&A session after the lecture, a lot of questions were asked by the participants, which indicated high interest in Japanese cultures in the UK.
Presentation by Ms. Ayako Ogawa during the seminar
Although many people once had an image of gendai bijutsu (contemporary art) as being difficult to understand and tended to avoid it, it is now becoming familiar even to Japanese people as they start to refer to it as “gendai art,” which seems to sound more approachable. It has become normal for art museums to exhibit and store works of contemporary art. However, the materials and techniques used in contemporary art vary tremendously from one piece of work to another, and art museums are now finding it increasingly difficult to effectively conserve and restore them using their traditional expertise. To discuss such issues concerning the conservation and restoration of contemporary art, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a seminar on January 30th, featuring the following speakers: Ms. Ayako OGAWA, Project Researcher, The National Museum of Art, Osaka; and Mr. Yuichiro Taira, Project Associate Professor, Arts & Science LAB., Tokyo University of the Arts.
In her presentation titled “The Conservation and Restoration of Contemporary Art in Art Museums,” Ms. Ogawa addressed the issues facing art museums. The National Museum of Art, Osaka (NMAO), which she works for, actively collects and exhibits time-based media works (artworks that employ a temporal form of expression) including video recordings, installations, and performances, which do not simply fit into the framework of museums. Just days before this seminar, the exhibition Travelers: Stepping into the Unknown started at the NMAO (from January 21st to May 6th, 2018). Providing examples from this exhibition, including a work by Robert Rauschenberg and a performance-based work by Allora & Calzadilla, Ms. Ogawa outlined a range of tasks involved in hosting such artworks, from receiving to exhibiting.
Mr. Taira’s presentation was titled “Is Contemporary Art Such a Special Thing in the History of Art Conservation and Restoration?” and challenged the idea of how Western art and ancient Japanese cultural properties should be conserved or restored. The works of video art created from the 1960s to 1980s, most notably those of Nam June Paik, use cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors. Today, liquid crystal displays (LCDs) have become the dominant type of display, making it almost impossible to find a replacement CRT monitor. However, even if the material identity of the original work is lost after restoring it with an LCD instead of a CRT monitor, the core identity of the work, or its “DNA,” could be clearly communicated to the audience. Mr. Taira presented an argument from a broad perspective, even taking into account the ritual of Shikinen Sengu (a periodical transfer of god to a new shrine building) in Ise Shrine and other methods of passing down cultural properties that date back to ancient Japan. His argument extended beyond the topics of contemporary art and provided an opportunity for us to rethink how best to restore cultural properties, for which people have different approaches to inpainting, reworking, and hypothetical restoration depending on each property.
While most presentations delivered at the Department’s seminars usually cover topics related to art history, this particular seminar was devoted to the topics of conservation and restoration of art, which attracted many people from other departments. After the presentations, participants exchanged their views from different professional perspectives.
Seiki KURODA (far-right in the back row) and his relatives. His birth father, Kiyokane, is on the left side of the front row while his adoptive father, Kiyotsuna, is on the right side.
Photographed at his home in Hirakawa-cho in 1904.
On December 26th, 2017, a monthly seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems and the following researchers presented at the seminar.
• Mr. Koji CHIKAMATSU (Visiting Researcher of the Department): “Interpretation of the Documents and Letters Related to Seiki KURODA”
• Mr. Atsushi TANAKA (Visiting Researcher of the Department): “Acceptance of Classical Works of Art by Ryusei KISHIDA from 1913 through 1916”
Mr. Chikamatsu reported on his research of letters written to a western-style painter Seiki KURODA (1866–1924), owned by the Institute. Research on the letters sent to this painter has been repeatedly reported at this seminar. Mr. Chikamatsu targeted his research on the letters written by his family members and relatives, including his birth father Kiyokane (1837–1914), his adoptive father Kiyotsuna (1830–1917), the Hashiguchi family, into which his adoptive sister married, and the Kabayama family, which adopted a child from the Hashiguchi family. Like the letters written by his adoptive mother Sadako presented by Mr. Jun TANAKA at the seminar held in August 2016, the letters reported here also showed that his relatives discussed Seiki’s change of profession from a lawyer to an artist during his stay in France.
Mr. Tanaka presented on the paintings of Ryusei KISHIDA (1891–1916), a western-style painter, during the period that he lived in Yoyogi, Tokyo (1913–1916). In his book titled “Ryusei’s Book of Paintings and Artistic Views” (published in 1920), he referred to the great masters in Europe, such as Albrecht Dürer, Andrea Mantegna, and Jan van Eyck, saying, “It was really nice and reasonable for me to be influenced by these classical works of art.” Among them, Mr. Tanaka paid attention to Andrea Mantegna, an Italian Renaissance artist. Following a discussion of his process of accepting classical works of art based on the European book of paintings, which Ryusei may have watched, the presenter closely examined Ryusei’s process of establishing realistic expressions in his representative work, “Sketch of Road Cut through a Hill” (painted in 1915), and others.
Inside the Library of L'Institut national d'histoire de l'art
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been making efforts to collect, organize and publish art materials accumulated since its foundation in 1930 as The Institute of Art Research, following the art archive models in Europe. After more than 80 years, the way in which European art is archived has progressed. The presentation titled “Introduction of Modern Art Materials, Museums, Libraries, Archives and Internet Resources in France and Their Utilization Cases” provided on September 5th by Mr. Tatsuya SAITO (visiting researcher) of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems was a good opportunity for us to understand the current situation in France.
Mr. Saito, who now researches French modern art for his doctorate at Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris, daily accesses archives in France. From the viewpoint of their user, he mainly introduced the cases in public institutions, such as the Bibliothèque nationale de France, L’Institut national d’histoire de l’art, the Musee de l’Histoire de France Archives Nationales, and the Musée d’Orsay. Compared with Japan, the digital archives operated by each institution are excellent in quality and quantity in general. Particularly manuscript materials, including letters written by artists, are digitalized well. The staff of this Institute, where lots of similar materials are housed, were extremely inspired. On the other hand, as not all materials are digitalized, it is also necessary to refer to original materials. We nodded in agreement at his comment as researchers.
At the seminar, Mr. Masaya KOIZUMI from Hitotsubashi University gave comments as a commentator while Ms. Masako KAWAGUCHI and Ms. Megumi JINGAOKA from the National Museum of Western Art and Mr. Rei KOZAKAI from the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art joined the seminar. Although the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems daily focuses on Japanese art, the staff proactively exchanged opinions with researchers in Western art about what art archives should be like.
Ticket for the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts exhibition “Floating Images of Women in Art History: from the Birth of the Feminism toward the Dissolution of the Gender”
The study of art history from the perspective of gender, which signifies the social and cultural constructs relating to male/female differences, developed in the West in the 1970s and ’80s. In Japan, gender was chosen as a theme by the Japan Art History Society in the ’90s, leading to exhibitions at art museums throughout the nation, attracting attention. Now, two decades later, we look back on the development and progress of gender studies. Ms.Reiko KOKATSU traced the footsteps in her presentation titled “The Gender Perspective: Its Introduction and Current Status in Japanese Art History Studies and Art Exhibitions.”
Ms. KOKATSU, who was involved in the planning of the 1997 “Floating Images of Women in Art History: from the Birth of the Feminism toward the Dissolution of the Gender” exhibition at the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, is also party to the ensuing “gender debate” that the exhibition helped to ignite. What emerged from the debate was the perspective of whether “art” exists as a separate world, cut off from real-world society. Ms. KOKATSU says such differences in perspective are prevalent in art circles even today. One example of coordinated movement by society and art might be the involvement of art historians in the protests against the “gender-free bashing” that became a social problem from 2004 to ’06.
After the presentation, Ms.Midori YAMAMURA (Special Researcher, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) spoke about the current state of gender studies in the USA. Ms.Maki KANEKO (University of Kansas) and Ms. Ryoko MIZUNO (Japan Women’s University) were also in attendance, with Ms.MIZUNO presenting some examples of the gender perspective in Japanese classical art studies. A multifaceted exchange of views took place in relation to art and gender.
For a summary of KOKATSU’s presentation, please refer to Vol. 12 of Gender History issued in 2016.
Sketch of by Gaho HASHIMOTO (Source: “Collection of Gaho’s Rough Sketches” edited by Shuho HASHIMOTO)
Gaho HASHIMOTO (1835-1908) is a renowned painter, who tries to innovate the modern Japanese-style painting together with Hogai KANO. Mr. Junichiro TANAKA (Ibara Municipal Denchu Art Museum) gave a presentation titled “Expressions in Figures by Gaho Hashimoto – Over the Possessed by Toyo University,” which has not been referred to so much among his works, at the research meeting held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on June 27.
The , where the four sages of Socrates, Buddha, Confucius and Kant are depicted on a hanging scroll, is now housed at Toyo University, but it is a very rare one among Gaho’s works. This scroll was painted at the request of Enryo INOUE (1858-1919), who is the founder of the University and a philosopher in the Meiji period. The four sages directly reflect Enryo’s perspective of philosophy, regarding them as the greatest philosophers of all ages and countries. This scroll has been used for the Philosophy Hall Ceremony organized at Philosophy Hall (Four Sages Hall) located in Nakano, Tokyo for many years. However, there are still unclear points about the scroll, including when it was painted and its background. We are curious about the sources on which Gaho was based to depict the unprecedented motif of Socrates and Kant in the authentic Japanese-style painting. Anyway, it is true that this is a unique work which implies unexpected interaction between a Japanese-style painter in the Meiji period and philosophers of the world.
A scene of the venue of the Japan World Exposition (Osaka, 1970)
“Oishii seikatsu” (delicious life) is an advertising catchphrase hammered out by Seibu Department Store in 1982. While a high-speed growth era in which people sought material affluence was brought to end, in an era represented by this catchphrase where people try to build an individualistic lifestyle, how did artists respond to the trend? At a workshop organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) on April 25th, 2017, Ms. Midori YAMAMURA (Special Researcher of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) gave a presentation titled “‘Oishii seikatsu’: Look at Japanese culture in the transitional stage to the tertiary industry,” which was an attempt to explore the society and the origin of culture in the 1980s.
According to Ms. YAMAMURA, artists who emerged from the end of the 1980s to the 1990s were greatly influenced by the Japan World Exposition held in Osaka in 1970. Artists participated in the World Expo, which excited enthusiasm in a great many Japanese people, through designing pavilions or exhibiting a piece of art. Meanwhile, those contemporary artists who were critical of the event’s stance of accepting the information industry or urbanization ended up becoming further alienated from people at large. A younger generation of artists, however, began conducting production activities by snuggling up to an everyday sense of ordinary people in the city. It is safe to say that the “Saison culture” based on a cultural strategy spelled out by the Saison Group, a distribution powerhouse centered on Seibu Department Store, which disseminated art, music, play or cinema that was in the forefront of the era between the 1970s and 1980s, played a role in fostering those artists’ flexible sensitivity.
The workshop invited Mr. Yuji MAEYAMA of the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, who made a remark on the cultural context in the 1970s to 1980s. Due in part to the fact that many participants underwent the same era, opinions and views were exchanged passionately, going beyond the framework of specialty. The content of the presentation is scheduled to be complied in the First Chapter of the book titled Japanese Contemporary Art After 1989 to be published by REAKTION BOOKS.
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held its monthly workshop onJanuary 12nd, where the following presentations were given:
- Building dynamic websites utilizing WordPress and resulting effects – the web version of ‘The Articleson the Deceased’ and ‘TheAnnals (General News) of theArtWorld’ used as examples” byTomohiro OYAMADA, Research Assistant at the Department
-“The significance of Christian art paintings in Gyokuyo KURIHARA’s art works” by Tai TADOKORO , Associate Fellow at the Department
In his presentation, OYAMADA reported actual improvements made on the website of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. The Institute has been publishing the “Year Book of Japanese Art,”a data book that summarizes trends in the art world in Japan, since 1936. On the other hand, the Institute has also made data accumulated in editing the book, including those on exhibitions and literature, available to the public on the Internet. As part of this effort, in April 2014, the Institute published database improved by using WordPress software. The database covers “The Articles on the Deceased,” a compilation of brief descriptions of the deceased who had careers in art, and “The Annals of the Art World,” which summarizes events in the art world for each year. As a result of this effort, the number of visitors to the website has significantly increased. In the presentation, OYAMADA made a comparison of the website designs before and after the improvement, and reported the effects of their new functions based on specific analysis results.
TADOKORO made a presentation on the work of Gyokuyo KURIHARA (1883-1922), who had a successful career as a female painter in Tokyo in the Taisho period. Gyokuyo focused on painting under the theme of Christianity from 1918 to 1920. Among the works of art during the period, “Asazuma Sakura (Christian girl Asazuma with cherry blossoms),” presented at the 12th Bunten exhibition in 1918, is said to be one of her representative works. The painting visualizes a story that developed in the Edo period involving Asazuma, a prostitute at Yoshiwara, who was arrested for her Christian faith under the anti-Christian edicts and executed under cherry blossoms in full bloom as her dying wish. In his presentation, TADOKORO discussed Gyokuyo’s reason for painting “Asazuma Sakura” and the position of the painting in her works. He further gave an in-depth discussion of the significance of Christian art paintings for Gyokuyo. For the entire collection of Gyokuyo’s art works, please see TADOKORO’s other disquisition entitled “Initial Research on Gyokuyo KURIHARA” in The Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies) No. 420 (issued in December 2016).
Image: Dated April 5th, 1895, a handwritten letter from Hosui YAMAMOTO to Seiki KURODA The illustration depicts Hosui himself returning from China with a dog in his rucksack and a daffodil in his basket.
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) owns several letters written to painter Seiki KURODA(1866–1924) who later in life was closely involved in the establishment of the institute. These letters are valuable materials for elucidating KURODA’s network of personal contacts during his life. For the reprinting and annotation of the letters, the TNRICP sought the cooperation of researchersoutside of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems. As part of the research work, the department hosted a seminar on Dec. 8th, 2016, inviting Mr.Akifumi SHIINO of the Fukui Fine Arts Museum to give a talk on “The Reprinting and Annotation of the Letters of Hosui YAMAMOTO to Seiki KURODA.”
Hosui YAMAMOTO (1850–1906) was a leading Western-style painter of the early Meiji Period. During his time studying painting in France, he is known to have encouraged KURODA to become a painter instead of a lawyer. After returning to Japan, he established a painting academy, the Seikokan, which he later handed over to KURODA. He also joined the new artists’ society formed by KURODA, the Hakubakai, maintaining a strong friendship. The institute owns 14 letters written by YAMAMOTO to KURODA, documenting their friendship in Japan. Of these, nine were date-stamped in 1896, when they had both just returned from service as artists in the Sino-Japanese War. The letters dealt with their painting activities and YAMAMOTO’s thoughts on KURODA’s “Morning Toilette,” which sparked a controversy on nude painting when it was submitted for the 4th National Industrial Exhibition. One letter includes a self-drawn image of YAMAMOTO immediately after his return to Japan from China; many things he writes are amusing. These letters are noteworthy primary materials that shed light on YAMAMOTO’s disposition after his return to Japan, whereas he is primarily known for his lighthearted character in the social world of Paris’ artists and intelligentsia. SHIINO’s talk also touched on the positions of the two artists in the world of Western-style painting in Japan, both of whom were held in high esteem while being 16 years apart in age.
Bronze Black Kite Being Hoisted by the Crane on October 13th
Restored Shochuhi memorial (Photographed by Mr. Takashi OKU)
As repeatedly reported through this activity report, the Committee for Salvaging Cultural Properties Affected by the 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku and Related Disasters having its secretariat in this Institute provided rescue activities for numerous cultural properties damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. The Shochuhi memorial (managed by Miyagiken Gokoku Shrine) standing on the site of the inner citadel of Sendai Castle (Aoba Castle) is one of them. The monument was built to console the souls of war victims related to the Second Division in Sendai in 1902. Due to the earthquake, a bronze black kite installed on the stone tower about 15 m in height fell to the ground. Its broken pieces were collected and the main body was relocated as Cultural Properties Rescue Operations by the Committee. After the completion of the Operations in 2014, the Monument was restored as the Disaster-Affected Museum Reconstruction Project in Miyagi Prefecture. The joining work for the broken black kite conducted at Bronze Studio located in Hakonegasaki, Tokyo from FY2015 was finally completed. From October 11th through 17th, 2016, the black kite was installed at its original location in Sendai.
The bronze black kite (4.44 m in height, 5.68 m in width, 3.819 t in total bronze weight), whose original virile appearance with its wings widely spreading was restored in Tokyo after about five and a half years, was transported to Sendai by trailer on October 12th, 2016. On the next day, the bronze statue was installed in the lower front of the stone tower by crane, under the watchful eye of the people concerned, local mass media, and tourists visiting Sendai Castle. The bronze black kite, which had been placed on the top of the tower, was installed at the foot of the tower for security, considering the possibility that it may fall again from the tower top when another large earthquake occurs if placed in its original position. This bronze statue was commissioned, and then produced and cast at Tokyo Fine Arts School (Tokyo University of the Arts, today). Now, you can get a close look at the dynamic appearance of the huge black kite produced with the united efforts of the art school in the Meiji era, although it is now located in a place different from its original position.
The restoration process that has taken over a little more than five years has revealed a lot of unknown facts about the Shochuhi memorial. The boring survey conducted in June, 2016 showed that there is a large hollow surrounded by brick walls inside the tower. Another fact that one of the wings of the black kite had toppled over due to an earthquake on November 3rd, 1936 prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake was confirmed with a newspaper at that time.
According to the restorers of the bronze statue, the restoration process has revealed a variety of techniques made full use of for production. Particularly, the lead and concrete filling the inside of the statue to fix the rail inserted as an iron core connecting the black kite and the stone tower, as well as to balance the black kite in weight, was removed in this restoration for weight reduction. On the other hand, for installation of the restored black kite, steel pipes with different diameters are connected like inserts are used as a support rod inside the bronze statue. To join the steel pipes, lead was cast to fill the gap for fixing. The fixing method used for this statue clarified during the restoration process was applied to this approach. Thus, the Shochuhi memorial has been revived from the earthquake damage by utilizing the excellent technique of our predecessors. We sincerely hope that this valuable monument in the Meiji era will be handed down from generation to generation for ever after re-realizing the value of new knowledge obtained during the restoration process.
Seiki Kuroda and his foster mother, Sadako
Part of a letter from Sadako to Seiki Kuroda dated July 9th, 1886
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) possesses a number of letters addressed to Seiki Kuroda (1866-1924), a Western-style painter who contributed greatly to the foundation of the Institute. As these letters are important materials for understanding his human network, the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems has been working on their transcription and investigation. Among them, there are letters that were exchanged between Kuroda and his family. With the objective of also focusing on such communications with his family, Mr. Jun TANAKA, Research Assistant of the Department, gave a research presentation titled “Transcription and Bibliographical Introduction of Letters to Seiki Kuroda from His Foster Mother, Sadako Kuroda” at the Departmental seminar.
Sadako Kuroda (1842-1904), the wife of Kiyotsuna Kuroda who adopted Seiki as his heir, raised Seiki from his infancy. The letters sent to Sadako from Seiki during his period of study in France had already been transcribed and published in “Diary of Seiki Kuroda” (Chuo Koron Art Publishing Corporation, 1966). At this seminar, over 70 letters from Sadako to Seiki were introduced. As was the case with the letters from Seiki to Sadako, the letters from Sadako were also written in plain kana characters with colloquial expressions inserted here and there. The contents pertain mostly to family news, telling Seiki, who was studying abroad, the recent events of family members in detail and her husband Kiyotsuna’s intention. She thus seems to have been serving as a mediator between the father and the son. In particular, when Seiki, who had left for France to study law, decided to direct his efforts toward becoming a painter, it is worth noting that Sadako, together with Kiyotsuna, expressed her support by writing, “It’s a very, very good idea” in her letter dated July 9th, 1886. It would be no exaggeration to say that the painter Seiki Kuroda came into being thanks to such emotional support from his foster parents. This seminar has given us an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of family ties in Kuroda’s accomplishments as a painter.