9-11 Sep 2015 Paris (France)
History Painting in Modern East Asia: Reflections on a Global Art History
Stephanie Su  1@  
1 : University of Chicago

This paper explores the notion and practice of history painting on Chinese subjects in early twentieth century Japan. As an idealized cultural entity, China's past became the source of inspiration and a contested field for Japanese and Chinese artists during this tumultuous period. This paper focuses on the oil paintings by Nakamura Fusetsu (1866-1943), an artist, calligrapher and collector, whose influ-ence was extended to China in the 1920s. Situated at the intersection of the European aesthetic concept and the East Asian narrative art tradition, Fusetsu's work demonstrated his profound reflections on what constituted East Asian culture. Past scholarship on history painting usually considered its produc-tion within the core narrative of nationalism; however, this approach undermined the historical com-plexities in East Asia, where frequent cultural, economic and political interactions among countries have lasted from the third century until today. Cross-referencing the visual and textual materials from Japan and China, this paper aims to reconstruct a more interconnected history of East Asian art beyond current national borders. Besides investigating the Sino-Japanese relationship, this paper also discuss-es Fusetsu's work in relation to European art. Moving away from the dichotomies of the center / pe-riphery, this paper proposes a viable methodology toward a global art history.


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