ASIA212Varley

After the overthrow of the tokugawa regime brought to

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Unformatted text preview: s, they mutually aspired to revitalize Japanese culture and art by incorporating modern Western (or “international”) elements into the native tradition and not by trying simply to reverse the course of progress. The tragedy for most of them was that this was no easy thing to do. A little Western “materialism” could rapidly dissipate a lot of Eastern “spiritualism.” In the case of the visual arts, the return to tradition led by Fenollosa and Okakura had been too radically launched, and within a few years Encounter with the West 267 the pendulum began to swing back to a position where both Westernstyle and Japanese art could coexist in Japan in an atmosphere of relative tranquility and equal competition. The fiery Fenollosa returned to the United States in 1890, and paintings in the Western manner were prominently displayed along with Japanese works in an industrial fair held the same year. More important, it was about this time that a number of highly promising artists returned from periods of study in France, Italy, and other Western countries. Among these, the one who was to have the greatest influence in art circles and who may rightly be regarded as the true founder of modern Western-style art in Japan was Kuroda Seiki (1866–1924). An Impressionist who had studied for ten years in Paris, Kuroda caused a minor furor by publicly exhibiting a painting of a nude for the first time in Japan (fig. 66). His influence and popularity spread rapidly, and in 1896 he was invited to join the faculty of Okakura’s Tokyo Art School, a clear recognition—however reluctantly given—that Western-style art was in Japan to stay. Since very little specific attention has thus far been given to the development of traditional Japanese music, some general remarks should be made before examining the impact upon it of Western music following the Meiji Restoration. To a great extent Japanese music evolved through the centuries in conjunction with—or, perhaps more precisely, as an auxiliary to—literature. This was particularly true from the medieval age on, when...
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