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Japanese Art in America: Building the Next Generation

April 01, 2009

On March 16, 2009, a symposium titled “Japanese Art in America: Building the Next Generation” was held at Japan Society, New York. This one-day event, co-organized by Japan Foundation and Japan Society, was aimed to conduct multilateral discussions to conceive of ways to develop the next generation of scholars, curators, collectors and museum-goers of Japanese Art in the U.S.

The symposium began with three 90-minute closed sessions during the day: Session A-- Exhibitions on Japanese Art: New Directions in Organization, Theme, and Content; Session B-- Japanese Art-Historical Studies: Educating the Next Generation; and Session C-- Japanese Art Collecting: Public and Private. Each session featured 20-minute presentations by two to three specialists (list of speakers attached below), followed by insightful remarks by a commentator. A Q & A session followed, led by a moderator, to further develop the conversation on the theme of each session. These three closed sessions attracted about 110 participants from the U.S., Japan, U.K., and Canada, including museum curators, scholars, art collectors and other professionals who deal with Japanese art.

Many emerging issues were raised throughout the day, and the following are some topics that were discussed during each session: the different approaches and methods of exhibiting Japanese fine arts between Japan and the U.S. and the importance of mutual understanding based on historical and cultural backgrounds (Session A: Hiroshi Asaka); the importance of cultivating new academic professionals with a broader sense of Japanese art, including design, media art, pop culture, etcetera; and how they should cooperate with the professionals in other fields such as literature, history, sociology, religion in order to vitalize and diversify the research on Japanese art in the coming era (Session B: Christine Guth); the new role of museums on how they can mobilize and nurture young people through the initiative of local art collectors and these museums (Session C: Matthew Welch).

The final part of this one-day event was an evening symposium, open to the public, which featured a presentation by Hideki Hayashida, Director of The National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT). Mr. Hayashida discussed the role of Japanese art in U.S.-Japan cultural exchange, and specifically, the current Japanese government’s various art policies and initiatives. Following the presentation, a panel discussion was held with three moderators from the earlier sessions, who reported on earlier discussions, while addressing the issues facing Japanese art in the United States in the new era and how diverse perspectives are required to sustain the field. An active Q & A session followed, including questions on the taxation on art objects, highlighting the significant differences between the systems in Japan and the U.S.

The day was capped off by a reception, attended by more than 100 participants. This provided the participants and guests an informal setting for socialization and a nice opportunity for people to exchange their ideas on various Japanese art related issues.

A complete report of this symposium will become available later on this website.


Session A: Exhibitions on Japanese Art: New Directions in Organization, Theme, and Content

Presenters
Felice Fischer, Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art, Curator of East Asian Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Hiroshi Asaka, Cultural Properties Senior Specialist, Fine Arts Division, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan
Commentator
Cornelia H. Butler, The Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings, The Museum of Modern Art
Moderator
Joe Earle, Vice-President, Japan Society and Director, Japan Society Gallery


Session B: Japanese Art-Historical Studies: Educating the Next Generation

Presenters
Christine Guth, History of Design, Royal College of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Yoshiaki Shimizu, Frederick Marquand Professor of Art and Archaeology, Director of Program in East Asian Art and Archaeology, Princeton University
Commentator
Susan Napier, Professor of Japanese Studies, Tufts University
Moderator
Yukio Lippit, Harris K. Weston Associate Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University


Session C: Japanese Art Collecting: Public and private

Presenters
Robert Feinberg, collector, Bethesda, MD
Barbara Bertozzi Castelli, Director, Leo Castelli Gallery
Matthew Welch, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Japanese and Korean Art, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Commentator
Joan B. Mirviss, President, Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd.
Moderator
Willard Clark, Collector and Founder of Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, Hanford CA


Evening open session: Japanese Art in America: Building the Next Generation

Presenter
Hideki Hayashida, Director of The National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT)
Panelists
Joe Earle, Vice-President, Japan Society and Director, Japan Society Gallery
Yukio Lippit, Harris K. Weston Associate Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University
Willard Clark, Collector and Founder of Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, Hanford CA
Moderator
Richard J. Wood, President, Japan Society