Avant-Garde Calligraphy and Zen between Postwar Japan, Europe, and the United States

External online event - Japanese Art Society of America

Wednesday 9 February, 2022
5:00pm EST


Dr. Bogdanova-Kummer (Sainsbury Institute)

About the talk

During this Zoom webinar, Dr. Bogdanova-Kummer (Sainsbury Institute) will present on postwar Japanese calligraphy. Based on her recent book Bokujinkai: Japanese Calligraphy and the Postwar Avant-Garde, this talk will introduce the Kyoto-based avant-garde calligraphy group named Bokujinkai, and explore their international trajectories. Bokujinkai—or ‘People of the Ink’—was a group formed in 1952 by five calligraphers, Morita Shiryū, Inoue Yūichi, Eguchi Sōgen, Nakamura Bokushi, and Sekiya Yoshimichi. In the early postwar years, avant-garde calligraphers from Japan radically transformed their art with the aim of bringing calligraphy to the same level of recognition as abstract painting. In order to reach this goal, they launched creative collaborations with European Art Informel artists and American Abstract Expressionists, and soon started sharing exhibition spaces with them at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Documenta in Kassel, São Paulo Biennale, and Carnegie International.

During this talk, Dr. Bogdanova-Kummer will examine the role that the postwar global Zen movement played in shaping the success of Japanese calligraphy abroad and will present their collaborations as one of the most fascinating examples of the early postwar global art exchanges.

Note: Advance registration is required for this event. Upon registration, you will receive a dedicated link to the program. Zoom will also send you a reminder one week before the event, one day before the event, as well as one hour prior to the event. At the request of the speaker and due to copyright issues with images of postwar art, only the audio portion of this webinar will be recorded.

About the speaker

Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Japanese Arts, Culture, and Heritage at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, which is affiliated with the University of East Anglia. She is an art historian specializing in modern Japanese art. Before joining the Sainsbury Institute in 2018, she received her Ph.D. from Heidelberg University and held postdoctoral positions at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and at the Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C. Her research interests include postwar art in Japan; modern calligraphy history in East Asia; transcultural studies; abstract art; and the relationship between image and language in modern Japan. She is the author of Bokujinkai: Japanese Calligraphy and the Postwar Avant-Garde (Japanese Visual Culture Series 19, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2020), and is currently working on her second book project on the history of calligraphy modernization in East Asia.

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