Between East and West: Reproductions in Art
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Toward the Future:
Museums and Art History in East Asia
CIHA Colloquium in Tokyo, Japan
Sunday and Monday, March 10 and 11, 2019
At the Auditorium, Tokyo National Museum

The Japanese gallery Honkan, Tokyo National Museum


Under the title “Toward the Future: Museums and Art History in East Asia,” the 2019 CIHA Colloquium in Tokyo examines the sate of the field of art history in the age of globalization by discussing various issues in East Asian art history from a comparative viewpoint, and explores ways to expand the field of study for the future. It also expects to contribute toward reorienting the history of East Asian art more comprehensively through discussion in the sessions focusing on the foundations and modern development of museums, art history, and other related art institutions and of related practices and activities such as collecting artistic objects and the historiography of arts and artists in pre-modern East Asia.

In fact, the substructure that provided the foundations and fostered the developments under discussion varied from region to region in East Asia even though the traditional notion of shuhua or “calligraphy and painting,” for example, was prevailing as the framework within which various artistic practices were attempted in pre-modern East Asian countries. In China, the notion of shuhua seemed to be maintained even after the establishment of modern academic art education and exhibition systems while, in Japan, coinage of the word bijutsu, meaning “Fine Arts,” expelled calligraphy from the realm of art defined as bijutsu and drove traditional notions into the category of outdated customs. In Korea, where the three categories of “Eastern painting,” “Western painting,” and “calligraphy” were maintained in official art exhibitions, traditional notions seemed to compromise with the Western notion of art, even after the neologism of bijutsu was introduced to East Asian countries and continued by the word meishu in Chinese and misul in Korean, using the same set of characters.

Considering these contexts in East Asia, this colloquium is subdivided into two sessions: “Comparative or Cross-Cultural Approaches to East Asian Art Before the Sustained Contact with the West” and “The Foundation and Development of Museums, Art Collecting, and Art History in East Asia After the Encounters with the West.” The first session focuses on various issues concerning pre-modern East Asian art and art institutions, while the second concentrates on those of modern and post-modern East Asia. Although the historical context of interactions with the West, as well as the context of modernization, differed from region to region in East Asia as in the case of introducing the Western notion of art, both sessions take comparative and regional, interregional, or trans-regional viewpoints to examine artistic practices and activities of the past and present. These viewpoints may stimulate comparisons between pre-modern practices and modern institutions or between different regions in East Asia. They may also concern Western reactions after the direct contact with East Asia, such as the collecting of objects from the East.

The range of topics to take up in the two sessions of this colloquium is rather limited, but a focused discussion, we believe, will contribute to the future development of the field of study. From the 1980s onward, a set of bipolar tendencies has become noticeable in art historical studies. On the one hand, globally-oriented research has expanded the traditional field of study in art history to the study of images and visual cultures in a broad sense or even to a kind of image anthropology. On the other hand, regionally-oriented research has underscored the historicity of the Western term of “art” and been skeptical of the universality of that term, which art history had presumed as the foundation of the discipline from the outset. At present, the field of art history appears to be headed more and more toward a borderless vision. Responding to the present trend, this colloquium is expected to help redefine research frameworks in the field of study.

The following is a random list of topics speakers may choose to address in their papers in either of the two sessions:

  • Art collecting in the political context of pre-modern East Asia.
  • Aspects of pre-modern historiography on arts and artists.
  • Comparative approaches to museums and museum law in East Asia.
  • Differences in taste or aesthetic preferences that brought about differences in art collections.
  • Differences in Western collections of Asian art between different regions and different times.
  • East Asian contemporary arts and the art market in the world.
  • Establishment and development of art history as a discipline in East Asian art schools or universities.
  • Forming collections of arts from foreign countries in East Asian and Western countries.
  • Reconstruction of the history of East Asian painting through copies and reproductions.
  • Pre-modern approaches toward the antiquity in East Asia.
  • Professional art studios functioning as an art education system.
  • Purchasing and collecting modern or contemporary Western artworks on globalized markets.
  • Reactions to the introduction of the Western concept of art to East Asia.
  • Transmission or transformation of an indigenous art collection into museum’s objects in East Asia.
  • Transoceanic transactions dealing with artistic objects within a network of human relations.
  • Trends and fashions to collect art objects.


ICOM (International Council of Museums) will hold a triennial general conference from September 1 through 7, 2019, in Kyoto under the title “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition,” which shares the theme of the CIHA Colloquium in Tokyo. Please see the website for the conference: .


The colloquium is jointly organized by the Japanese Committee for CIHA and Tokyo National Museum ( with the co-organizer, the Otsuka Museum of Art (, and supported by the Kajima Foundation for the Arts, along with sponsorship of the Science Council of Japan and the Japan Art History Society. It is also in a scholarly collaboration with the Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, the University of Tokyo.