MLA Proseminar: Modernity and Confrontation: 20th-Century Art in East Asia
This course considers modern and contemporary art in China, Japan and Korea over the course of the twentieth century. What does it mean to make modern art and whom should it serve were essential questions in this century in East Asia. In this course the confrontations between modernity and tradition, state and self, the colonizer and the colonized, and collecting and the market are all issues under consideration. We will begin with a study of the way “modern art” was defined at the turn of the century, its place in the nation state, the promotion of oil painting in Academic styles, and the call to preserve “national” styles. The course will also consider how the avant-garde pursuit of individuality constituted a confrontation over state-sponsored “modernism,” and how these confrontations played out in world’s fairs and expositions (and continue today). We will also engage how Japan’s imperialist actions against its neighbors had an impact on artistic development in territories it controlled, and the place of the work of art as propaganda in Japan’s war effort. Turning to the postwar era, we will study how China’s Communist Revolution, the Korean War, and the Occupation in Japan likewise established new paradigms for the production and reception of art, as well as more recent confrontations between art and politics in recent decades and the place of Chinese, Korean and Japanese art in the contemporary market.