Art, Anti Art, Non Art: Experimentations In The Public Sphere In Postwar Japan, 1950 1970 School Of The Art Institute Of Chicago / Art History Research Paper

2447 words - 10 pages

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Japan, during the the postwar time, was full of controversial discussion, deep
debate and assumption which was not defined easily like as the unstable
circumstances of Japan after the war. On the other hand, inside Japan, these kinds of
instability and speculation became a root for artists and art critics to go to great pains
with unfamiliar art practices and intense consideration to the question, “What is Art?”
In the article “Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar
Japan, 1950-1970,” the author, Merewether and Hiro, says “While these rich and
compelling practices against geijutsu (art) have recently received a considerable
amount of attention, the critical writings and other discursive practices by the artists
and critics who played central roles in these movements are less well known outside
Japan” (Merewether and Hiro. 2).
In this period, the Japanese artists started to place their own artworks not just at
their individual work spaces, but on city streets, subways, parks, and other public
places. In other words, after the postwar, a boundary line between art and life started
to be disappeared in Japan. Around this time, the terminology Han-geijutsu or Anti-Art
came into use among Japanese artists, writers, and art critics, and it began to spread
around the Japanese art community. About this terminology, Japanese art critic, Tōno
Yoshiaki mentions in the article “Somebody told me that the term Anti-Art was in vogue
lately. Is that so? I responded, only to be told that I was the one who had started it —
with my comment on Kudo Tetsumi’s work at the Yomiuri Independent Exhibition in a
newspaper review. In it, I called his work “junk anti-art” (Merewether and Hiro. 2-3).
Talking about this term little bit more concretely, Tōno Yoshiaki reviews the artworks of
some artists, “You may wonder whether they are geijutsu (Art). Never mind. They are
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not geijutsu, but Han-geijutsu (Anti-Art), so to speak. Still, I dare ask you this question :
Won't they touch your heart more immediately than those objets d'art (geijutsu-hin) that
primly inhabit the display cases at the museum, completely dissociated from your
everyday life” (“Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art” 4). While reading the article, in my opinion, artists
in Japan would treat the artworks, which were not artistic and discerning, were “Anti-
Art” in the early postwar period. From my personal perspective, I think a lack of
experience and consideration about “Anti-Art” for the Japanese artists and critics
caused this tendency.
Two authors, Merewether and Hiro, in the article “Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art” gives us
an interesting point of view about “Anti-Art” and “Non-Art” by combining various
Japanese artworks and records of that period. As an example for this, Merewether and
Hiro say “The initial signs of Anti-Art were spotted in 1958 at the Yomiuri Independent
Exhibition, an annual exhibition sponsored by the Yomiuri Newspaper Company and
held each March at the To...

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