Japan

Organized Panel Session

4 - Postwar U.S.-Japan Collaborative Production of "War Painting" for the Reports of General MacArthur

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

Researchers have usually assumed that so-called “war paintings” (sensoga) in Japan were created for circulation among members of its wartime empire prior to Japan’s surrender in 1945.  This presentation will introduce a group of war paintings that were seemingly produced or altered after the war under a collaboration between Douglas MacArthur’s Tokyo General Headquarters and Japanese artists.  The paintings in question were among those published in 1966 as a part of “The Reports of General MacArthur,” an official text (originally completed in 1950) of the history of his leadership in the war against Japan.  This study investigates the process in which some of these paintings were commissioned from local painters between 1946 and 1950 by the G-2 Historical Section for the “Reports” through arrangements by its Japanese employees who had connections to the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy and the Axis powers.
The aim of this talk is to interrogate the significance of war representations produced or altered in postwar collaboration with Occupation forces yet ostensibly presented as wartime paintings.  These works disrupt the standard assumptions defining the genre, such as the timing of production, the meaning of their “dual” value as propaganda, and customary ideas of patronage and artistic intent.Analysis of these works will help facilitate a critical reassessment of the conventional winner-loser binary scenario of war narratives and art and the alleged rupture between the wartime and postwar period.

Megumi Kitahara

Osaka University, Osaka, Japan

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