Discussion “Decisive Moments in Postwar Japanese Art – The Actuality of Bijutsu Shuppansha Photography Archive”


[Date] Friday March 24, 2023 16:00-18:00 (Doors open at 15:30)
[Venue] Intermediatheque 2F Lecture Theatre [ACADEMIA]
[Admission] Free (no reservation required). The number of seats is limited to 48. Your understanding is appreciated.
[Language] Japanese (No English interpretation provided)
[Organizer] The University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT)

Bijutsu Shuppansha led the postwar Japanese art publishing industry through the publication of luxurious art books, but also major general art magazines such as Mizue, Bijutsu Techō, Bijutsu Hihyō and Design . To support its publishing activities, it produced a vast amount of photographic materials. The collection includes not only reproductions of works featured in the magazines, but also records of visits to artists’ studios as well as photographic testimonies of major exhibitions and events, in a corpus of primary sources that form the foundation of postwar Japanese art history.
This archive of over 100,000 photographs on film was donated to the University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT) in 2019. Since then, the films were restored then digitized, and research was conducted in order to create a digital database. The archive includes almost all photographs published on books and magazines, mainly taken by Sakai Hiroyuki (1932-2007) who worked as an exclusive photographer for Bijutsu Shuppansha, and also covers the photographs that did not actually appear in the magazines. In other words, also present are all the photographs taken before and after those that were actually chosen as “decisive moments” in postwar Japanese art history and became icons that were widely shared, depicting artists’ expressions, the appearance of their studio, as well as scenes of major artistic events. Because of the sheer number of photographs, this archive represents a major revolution in the iconography that has shaped postwar Japanese art history to date.
Before the database is opened to the public, the researchers involved in this project will introduce the archive and discuss its characteristics and historical significance, as well as its current state not only in art historical research, but with regards to art in general.

Yutaka Mikami (Former editor at Bijutsu Techō , former professor at the Department of Arts of Wako University, currently Invited Researcher at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)
Yoshiaki Nishino (Intermediatheque Advisor / Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo)
Hirohisa Mori (Associate Professor, UMUT)
Kei Osawa (Project Researcher, UMUT)

Back to index