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Title: Communicating vessels : the Surrealist movement in Japan 1923-1970
Author: Munro, Majella
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2012
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Histories of Surrealism typically concentrate on the provocations of French practitioners against the rise of totalitarianism in Europe. The case of Japan, where Surrealists were directly imprisoned by wartime authorities, presents an apposite study of the interaction of state and avant-garde, yet the Japanese contribution is marginalised in existing accounts. Japan forms an excellent case study in the tensions and problematics inherent in Surrealism, since it encompasses tensions between East and West; Imperialism and anti-colonialism; totalitarianism and avant-garde radicalism; and issues of cultural assimilation and e~change. Existing scholarship on Japanese Surrealism is limited, marred by inadequate attention to context; by ideological and connoisseurial biases; and, in the case of international exchange, by a paucity of archival research. Recently, increasing interest in Eastern European, Latin American and other Surrealist movements has created a new context for scholarship, in which discourse can be geographically expanded, and in which the Japanese movement can be reassessed. Investigating the specific cultural and political contexts of Japanese Surrealism contributes to an understanding of the Surrealist movement as an international whole. Japanese practitioners were thought to be isolated from the Parisian 'core' of the movement, but the relationships of Japanese artists with prominent European Surrealists allows the provincial, derivative character given to Japanese Surrealism in previous accounts to be confronted, and opens the critical reception and transmutation of European ideas to enquiry. By examining France and Japan comparatively, this thesis provides a model of the dialogue between the Parisian 'core' and the Japanese 'periphery'. This enquiry also contributestothewiderfield of Japanese art history. Scholarship on Japanese art is dominated by enquiry into traditional, pre-modern art; research into modern and avant-garde art, particularly work produced before the end of World War 11, has been less forthcoming. Thus, this thesis, positioned at an intersection between discourse on the Surrealist movement as an international collective; on Japanese modernism; and on the non-western avant-garde, contributes to several emergent areas of enquiry, and interrogates how cultural movements might transcend 'nation' and 'ideology' during times of conflict.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available