Arts & Crafts

Aoki Shigeru(青木 繁 Aoki Shigeru, July 13, 1882- March 25, 1911) was a Japanese painter, noted for his work in combining Japanese legends and religious subjects with the yōga (洋画, Western-style) art movement in late 19th- and early 20th-century Japanese painting.

A dichotomy in Japanese art after the period of isolation

When Emperor of Japan regained ruling power in 1868, Japan was once again invaded by new and alien forms of culture. During the Prewar period, the introduction of Western cultural values led to a dichotomy in Japanese art, as well as in nearly every other aspect of culture, between traditional values and attempts to duplicate and assimilate a variety of clashing new ideas. This split remained evident in the late twentieth century, although much synthesis had by then already occurred, and created an international cultural atmosphere and stimulated contemporary Japanese arts toward ever more innovative forms.

As Japan has always made little distinction between 'fine art' and 'decorative art', as the West has done since the Renaissance, it is important to note Japan's significant and unique contributions to modern art, commercial, graphic design, anime, video game graphics, concept art, fashion and architecture, with creations of a truly modern, global, and multi-cultural bent. Japanese modern art takes as many forms and expresses as many different ideas as modern art in general, worldwide.


The performance art "Passage"(1994) by Murakami Saburō. Click image for Video

The postmodern art movements after the war

After the end of World War II in 1945, many artists began working in art forms derived from the international scene, moving away from local artistic developments into the mainstream of world art. In the occupation, American pop art greatly influenced Japan. In the 1950s and 1960s, Japan's artistic avant garde included the internationally influential Gutai (具体) group, which originated or anticipated various postwar genres such as performance art, installation art, conceptual art, and wearable art.

Takashi Murakami (村上 隆, Murakami Takashi, born in Tokyo) is an internationally prolific contemporary Japanese artist. Click image for Video

Superflat is a postmodern art movement, founded by the artist Murakami Takashi (村上 隆; born 1962), which is influenced by manga and anime. "Superflat" is used by Murakami to refer to various flattened forms in Japanese graphic art, animation, pop culture and fine arts, as well as the "shallow emptiness of Japanese consumer culture." A self-proclaimed art movement, it was a successful piece of niche marketing, a branded art phenomenon designed for Western audiences.

Feature Story

  • The rise of edo pop-art

    In the Edo period, a style of woodblock prints called ukiyo-e became a major art form and its techniques were fine tuned to produce colorful prints.