This is Big Book

  • Japanese art |

This exhibition not only provides dramatic examples of the spectacular craftsmanship and sophisticated design long associated with Japan, it conveys the complex social and cultural tensions in Japan during the Taishô and early Shôwa epochs (1912–1945). In these pre-war and war eras, artists and patrons created a Japanese modernism that signaled simultaneously the nation’s unique history and its cosmopolitanism. The vitality of the era is further expressed through the theme of the modern girl, known in Japan as the modan gaaru or moga, for short—the emblem of contemporary urban chic that flowered along with the Art Deco style in the 1920s and 1930s.

In contrast to previous exhibits and books on Art Deco that organize the material by medium, this exhibition is conceived in a more complex fashion to highlight the cultural, formal, and social aspects of Japanese Deco. The exhibition is divided into five sections, each segueing into the next so that the exhibit unfolds sequentially, providing variety while underscoring key ideas.

Moving from subject to style, the exhibit next explores the formal qualities of Japanese Deco, demonstrating the broad range of styles associated with Deco as well as the Japanese translation of western idioms. The fundamental Deco preference for simplified geometric shapes, minimal ornamentation, and fresh colors is witnessed in abstract works in a range of materials. They also attest to the Japanese desire to reinterpret a variety of crafts. The Deco adaptations of earlier styles—including Art Nouveau and Cubism—and familiar themes is most evident in the sections on natural motifs, which includes works featuring plants, animals, birds, and auspicious creatures. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher