Japan

Organized Panel Session

2 - Role of the Army in Art: Wartime Activities of Rikugun Bijutsu Kyokai (Army Art Association)

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Delaware Suite B, Lobby Level

Many critics have misleadingly labeled the state of Japan's wartime art world as a "period of artistic void," assuming the restrictions imposed by the Japanese Army must have prevented artists from exercising their creative capacity.  The assumption resulted from the scholarship's focus on famous artists' paintings representing combat scenes, neglecting a need for closer examination of wartime art activities.  By bringing attention to and analyzing the extensive scope of influences on the general public exercised by wartime exhibitions and their organizing institution, Rikugun-Bijutsu Kyokai (the Army Art Association), this presentation will argue that this image of wartime artistic dormancy is an inaccurate, retrospective contrivance of postwar art historians.
 In the 1930s and early 40s, a large volume of art works was publicly displayed through several venues of periodic and sensationalized exhibitions of "senso-bijutsu," ("war art"), and sold in the art market. Their organizing institution was the Army Art Association, founded in 1939, which gathered its members from various art groups regardless of the differences in their artistic views.  These exhibitions traveled throughout the territories of the Japanese Empire, including Manchuria, Korea, and Taiwan, and gained over 3.8 million spectators in 1943.  The association also published various media that had large circulations.  They included many books about war art, essays, political magazines, illustrated soldiers' diaries, and postcards of war art, depicting important battles, daily lives of occupied territories, and life on the home front, that were relevant to both soldiers and the general public.

Reita Hirase

Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Aichi, Japan

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2 - Role of the Army in Art: Wartime Activities of Rikugun Bijutsu Kyokai (Army Art Association)



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