Designing the Everyday in Twentieth-Century Japan
- PUBLISHED: April 2020
- SUBJECT LISTING: Art History / Asian Art, Asian Studies / Japan, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 300 Pages, 7 x 10 in, 76 b&w illus., 36 color illus.
- ISBN: 9780295746838
The hugely popular Japanese artist Takehisa Yumeji (1884–1934) is an emblematic figure of Japan’s rapidly changing cultural milieu in the early twentieth century. His graphic works include leftist and antiwar illustrations in socialist bulletins, wrenching portrayals of Tokyo after the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923, and fashionable images of beautiful women—referred to as “Yumeji-style beauties”—in books and magazines that targeted a new demographic of young female consumers. Yumeji also played a key role in the reinvention of the woodblock medium. As his art and designs proliferated in Japan’s mass media, Yumeji became a recognizable brand.
In the first full-length English-language study of Yumeji’s work, Nozomi Naoi examines the artist’s role in shaping modern Japanese identity. Addressing his output from the start of his career in 1905 to the 1920s, when his productivity peaked, Yumeji Modern introduces for the first time in English translation a substantial body of Yumeji’s texts, including diary entries, poetry, essays, and commentary, alongside his illustrations. Naoi situates Yumeji’s graphic art within the emerging media landscape from 1900s through the 1910s, when novel forms of reprographic communication helped create new spaces of visual culture and image circulation. Yumeji’s legacy and his present-day following speak to the broader, ongoing implications of his work with respect to commercial art, visual culture, and print media.
Authors & Contributors
Nozomi Naoi is assistant professor of humanities (art history) at Yale-NUS College.
Naoi’s book is both an outstanding and accessible art history book.- New Books in East Asian Studies (NBN)
Positioning Yumeji in Japan’s early twentieth-century ‘mediascape’ allows Naoi to address the artist, his unique career trajectory, and his many publics in a holistic manner. Yumeji Modern’s value lies in the thoroughness of its treatment of Yumeji but also, and more significantly, in its approach to the visual cultures of early twentieth-century Japan.- Allen Hockley, author of The Women of Shin Hanga: The Judith and Joseph Barker Collection of Japanese Prints
Yumeji Modern is a well-considered study of an artist whose images are ubiquitous and instantly recognizable even as their historical significance and cultural meaning have remained obscure. Naoi’s book marks a new and exciting moment in the study of Japanese modern art for the way it expands our understanding of the dynamic interaction of various media and their audiences in the vibrant visual culture landscape of early twentieth century Japan.- Alicia Volk, Associate Professor of Japanese Art History, University of Maryland
Yumeji Modern intelligently maps out the multitiered trajectories of Yumeji’s creative output that found expression in illustrations, posters, postcards, design, songs, etc. The first major monograph in English on this extraordinary artist whose popularity never waned in Japan, it will serve as an important resource for anyone interested in Yumeji’s art and the cultural vibrancy of modern Japan that his work and career embodied.- Noriko Murai, Associate Professor, Sophia University