This gallery looks at contemporary art made by artists from Japan beginning in 1955 to the present day. The selection of slides investigates a presence or absence of national identity, processes and materials used, as well as the presence or absence of traditional influence on the work.
Description: In the contemporary art world, national boundaries are often insignificant, as the art market is international. However, labels of nationality are widely present in the discourse of art, and contemporary art is often classified according to the heritage of its maker. To refer to the art being made by artists of Japanese descent as Japanese art is perhaps too limiting in the context of modern Japanese history. Some contemporary artists in Japan talk about the cultural influence that their nationality has on their process and their work. Others find inspiration internationally, and just happen to be Japanese.
In some cases, art materials and processes are historically tied to Japan. Certain materials, such as ink, woodblocks, and bamboo can be seen throughout the history of art-making in Japan. Simultaneously, many materials used are also universal, such as clay, textile, and the camera. This gallery looks at contemporary art made by artists from Japan beginning in 1955 to the present day. The selection of slides investigates a presence or absence of national identity, processes and materials used, as well as the presence or absence of traditional influence on the work. This gallery provides a broad selection of contemporary art from Japan from the MFA’s permanent collection.
Grade Level: Can be adapted for various subjects in grades K-12
Learning Goals: Exploring this gallery, you will discover:
• The varied artistic mediums being used during the contemporary period
• National and international influences on the contemporary art world in Japan
• The thematic and stylistic approaches used by artists.
This discovery will require students to:
• Look closely at objects and observe details
• Use prior knowledge in conjunction with observation
• Generate hypotheses based on observation and prior knowledge
Using this Resource:
• Social Studies teachers and students will be interested in what this gallery reveals about contemporary Japanese society and culture.
• Art teachers and students will be interested in the techniques and design of varying mediums of art in contemporary Japan.
• World Language teachers and students will be interested in studying the culture and terms applied to objects and ideas.
Please refer to“Related Resources” at the bottom of this page to download PDFs of related classroom activities and slide notes with discussion questions. The objects in this lesson are just a beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum's online collection through this web source - or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries - to look for other objects that will provide further insights into this exhibition.