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Hideki Nakazawa’s “ART HISTORY JAPAN: 1945-2014″ is a foundational text in the international understanding of post-war art in Japan. First published in 2008 as part of an exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, it offered a bi-lingual panorama of the diverse trends, movements and personalities in Japanese art from the 1950s to the present day, stressing their originality in relation to global discourses on Dada, Surrealism, Art Informel, Neo-Pop, Conceptualism and Neo-Expressionism, as well as introducing key works of Japanese art criticism. While the avant garde of the 1950s to 70s is beginning to be well mapped out by international art historians, later periods – of which Nakazawa has intimate autobiographical knowledge – remain less well known.

On the occasion of the re-publication by ART DIVER ( late last year of a fully revised, updated and re-translated version of this unique work, Hideki Nakazawa gave a talk at SOAS as part of his first ever visit to London. He presented his explanation of Japanese contemporary art trends in terms of periodisation and cyclical history and was joined for discussion by Kiyoko Mitsuyama-Wdowiak, independent art historian, and author of Umi wo Wataru Nihon-gendai-bijutsu [Contemporary Japanese Art Across the Sea] (Keiso Shobo 2009)

Chaired and moderated by Adrian Favell, Professor of Sociology, Sciences Po, Paris and author of Before and After Superflat: A Short History of Japanese Contemporary Art 1990-2011 (Blue Kingfisher/DAP 2012)

“ART HISTORY JAPAN: 1945-2014″ offers a historical perspective to comprehend dynamisms of Japanese art since 1945, exploring the nearly 70 year postwar art history with both established and more up-to-date examples such as Taro Okamoto, Tadanori Yokoo, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Chim↑Pom, Chaos*Lounge and so on.

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The book covers an unprecedentedly long period of postwar Japanese art from 1945 to this day in the author’s ambition to write “the only authentic history of Japanese contemporary art.” Chronologically chasing developments of various artistic styles and movements in details, the author demonstrates certain patterns recurring over the course of time and integrates those otherwise dispersed practices into a coherent cyclic history model.

The first edition in 2008 attained much attention in art communities, domestic and oversea alike, but the limited publication was shortly sold out while leaving enthusiastic anticipation for the second edition. This second edition is published not only to answer the immediate need but also to enhance the contents by extensively revising the book and newly adding Chapter 8 devoted to up-and-coming movements in contemporary art in Japan since 2008.

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The depth and wide spectrum of arguments in “ART HISTORY JAPAN: 1945-2014″ will serve both serious art watchers and those who want to know more about contemporary art in Japan. As a growing number of global audience has discovered Japanese contemporary art, it is fairly fruitful to look through and reflect on its postwar art history now for better understanding and more informed discussion.

Chapter 1 1945-1954
Surrealism & Diversity – The State of Art After Defeat in World War II
1a The Question of Artists’ War Responsibility
1b Participating in the Venice Biennale
1c “Heavy Hand,” Realism Controversy, Taro Okamoto
1d Reportage, Closed-Door, Shuzo Takiguchi and the Experimental Workshop

Chapter 2 1955-1959
Avant-Garde – Gutai, Kyushu-ha, Art Informel
2a Gutai
2b Kyushu-ha
2c Avant-Garde and Locality
2d Art Informel Sensation
2e Art Informel and the East

Chapter 3 1960-1963
Anti-Art – Neo Dada and Hi-Red Center
3a Neo Dadaism Organizers
3b The Discontinuation of the Yomiuri Independent Exhibition
3c Hi-Red Center
3d Pop Art in Japan
3e Zero Jigen

Chapter 4 1964-1979
Reductionism & Diversity- Mono-ha, Conceptualists, Bikyoto
4a Japanese Conceptualists (1) Get Rid of Objects
4b Japanese Conceptualists (2) Tricks and Vision
4c Mono-ha
4d Bikyoto, Post Conceptualists, Post Mono-ha
4e Return to Painting

Chapter 5 1980-1984
Trans-Avant-Garde – 80s Avant-Garde and Nippon Graphic Exhibition
5a Postmodernism in Japan: Inside and Outside
5b Inside: 80s Avant-Garde and Neo-Expressionism
5c Outside: Heta-Uma and Nippon Graphic Exhibition
5d Postmodernism and Historical Cycles

Chapter 6 1985-1994
Simulationism- From Kansai New Wave to Tokyo Simulationism
6a Yasumasa Morimura and Kansai New Wave
6b The Eve of Tokyo Simulationism
6c Tokyo Simulationism (1) Takashi Murakami and Masato Nakamura
6d TokyoSimulationism (2) Tsuyoshi Ozawa and Makoto Aida

Chapter 7 1995-2009
Mannerism & Diversity – Bad Place, Superflat, Micropop
7a Hedonism and Mannerism
7b Modest-type, Studio Shokudo, The Group 1965
7c Bad Place, Superflat, Method
7d Beauty, Value and the Infrastructure
7e Micropop, Insider Art, Chim↑Pom

Chapter 8 2010-2014
Exploitive Avant-Garde – Expressionism & Anti-Expressionism Before & After Fukushima
8a Hiroyuki Nisougi and the Eve of the Fourth Expressionism
8b Chaos*Lounge and the 2010 Landscape
8c Expressionist Movement After Fukushima
8d Anti-Expressionist Movement After Fukushima

Author profile

Hideki Nakazawa is an artist born in 1963 in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. While studying at the medical department of Chiba University in 1983, he started his activities as an artist (his first period, acrylic painting). In 1990, he changed careers from an oculist to illustrator. He underwent his second period, “Silly CG,” by replacing paintbrushes with a computer mouse. In 1997, he converted to fine art by replacing computer graphic pixels with symbols such as letters (the third period,”Method painting.”) He resumed the use of colors in 2006, commencing the fourth period, honkaku (serious) painting,”New-Method” and “Forth Expressionism.” He has written “Methodicist Manifesto” and “New-Methodicist Manifesto.” As named in official patent records, Nakazawa is the inventor of a Device for Processing a 3D Image and the Method, and Solid Object Generation and the Method. He has published three books; “Textbook of Modern Art History, The Lives of Western Painters” and “Contemporary Art History: Japan”. His music release is titled, “Hideki Nakazawa Music Works”.

Related Information

Interview with Hideki Nakazawa “Contemporary art in Japan has entered a new phase” (go to the Japanese site)

Sponsored by Japan Foundation, London, SOAS & aLTERNATE fUTURES
Courtesy of Gallery Cellar and Art Diver
Coordinated by Adrian Favell and Kristin Surak