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Since MeijiPerspectives on the Japanese Visual Arts, 1868-2000$
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J. Thomas Rimer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834418

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834418.001.0001

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From Resplendent Signs to Heavy Hands

From Resplendent Signs to Heavy Hands

Japanese Painting in War and Defeat, 1937–1952

(p.124) 5 From Resplendent Signs to Heavy Hands
Since Meiji

Bert Winther-Tamaki

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines developments in Japanese painting during the period 1937–1952. Militaristic and imperialistic policies in the 1930s led to the outbreak of full-scale war in China in 1937, referred to in Japan as the “China Incident.” This was followed by the Great East Asia War, also known as the Pacific theater of World War II, that ended with Japan’s surrender in 1945. Japan’s rise and fall during this tumultuous period generated pressing social needs and exhilarating ideological passions that proved to be a boon for artistic initiatives, particularly painting. This chapter first considers landscape painting and its projection of Japan’s imperial expansion before discussing the military bureaucracy’s intervention in the art world that undermined artistic autonomy. It then explores how the military bureaucracy sought to exploit the propagandistic value of commissioned war paintings to stimulate the public to greater sacrifice for the war effort. It also describes how, during the American occupation, various modernist painters’ groups and publications that had been terminated under the military bureaucracy enjoyed a resurgence.

Keywords:   landscape painting, Japanese painting, China Incident, World War II, Japan, imperial expansion, military bureaucracy, artistic autonomy, war painting, modernist painters

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