AAHVS Intermezzo Talk: "Modeling the Modern: Japanese Salon Art on Display in Colonial Seoul (1922-1945)"
Art exhibitions epitomize the cosmopolitan spectacle of the modern world, replete with imperial fervor, international competition, and cultural diplomacy. Scholars have examined the political and symbolic implications of exhibitions featuring old and/or contemporary Japanese art that were held in Europe, the USA, and China in the first half of the twentieth century. However, little attention has been paid to the practice of displaying Japanese art as "model works" (sankohin) at the Korea Fine Arts Exhibition (1922, 1923) in Seoul. Similarly, little scholarship has investigated the fact that the first permanent display of modern Japanese art was established at the Toksugung Museum in 1933 in Seoul, not in Tokyo. By examining the selection criteria for these displays and related publicity in the contemporary press, I illuminate the overall rationale behind promoting Japanese art in the colony. I argue that the "model works" and the Toksugung display showcased a distinct pre-war canon of modern Japanese art that reflected the global ambitions of the Japanese art world and its expanding scope. Ultimately, colonial displays constituted important sites of imperial self-fashioning as embodiment of the modern in East Asia.
Talk is free and open to the public.