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Japanese Modernism

AJF Priority Area: Society and Culture

Country location: Australia

Grantee: Council Of Trustees Of The National Gallery Of Victoria

Illustration of people standing on a train platform
Hisui Sugiura The first subway in the East 1927 colour lithograph 91.0 x 62.0 cm National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased NGV Foundation, 2018 2018.1504 © Estate of Hisui Sugiura (Credit: NGV)

Project description

During the first half of the twentieth century Japan's traditional art and aesthetics interacted with European life and culture, resulting in a pulsating era of Japanese modernism and the creation of Asian Art Deco architecture, paintings, prints, design and fashion. From the early 1920s until the late 1930s, Japan developed a lively consumer culture and felt the influence of new technologies from abroad. Its cities underwent major redevelopment and featured bustling streets filled with department stores, cafés, teahouses, movie theatres, ballroom dance halls and modern transportation that catered to a new generation of urban pleasure seekers.

The exhibition investigates the increasing socially liberated status of Asian women with the inclusion of major works by young female artists of the era and features rare large-scale paintings by young Japanese artists and modernist colour prints produced with the refined techniques of traditional ukiyo-e. The exhibition also features fashion of the era, including women's and men's kimonos and related accessories. Popular culture and interior design is represented through beautifully crafted glassware, lacquer ware and bronze ware, as well as street posters, magazines and graphic design.

Key dates

Exhibition runs from 28 February to 4 October 2020

Asia Society Talk, NGV International, 23/04/2020

Opening/Fundraising Event, NGV International, 03/03/2020

Social media: @ngvmelbourne | The NGV will tag AJF on opening weekend posts, and sporadically throughout the exhibition. Due to internal restrictions, the NGV will be unable to hashtag AJF on any Japanese Modernism posts.

Australia-Japan Foundation grant: $25,000

Last Updated: 25 November 2019
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