Painting Circles: Tsuchida Bakusen and Nihonga Collectives in Early Twentieth Century Japan
John D. Szostak, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Painting Circles addresses the changing professional milieu of artists in early 20th century Japan, particularly the development of new social roles and networks, and how these factors informed the development of artistic identity. The focus of the study is the Nihonga painter Tsuchida Bakusen (1887-1936), who in 1918 founded an exhibition collective, the Kokuga Society, in response to increasing dissatisfaction with the nation’s government-sponsored exhibition salon. The study examines efforts by Bakusen and company to establish an independent position vis-à-vis the arts establishment by demonstrating their reflexive knowledge of Western modernist art movements on the one hand, and on the other, by showing their deep commitment to preserving traditional Japanese painting themes, media and techniques into the 20th century.