In the Momoyama era, art production flourished in a situation of eco-political and socio-religious interests and foreign exchanges. The panel will consider some of its innovative artworks, regarding both their production contexts and historiographic approaches to them.
The Momoyama era can be characterized by ample domestic socio-political vicissitudes and transcultural exchanges. Art production responded to these stipulations by way of innovative formats, materials, techniques, and motifs, which are generally considered to be creative reflections of structural shifts. The panel aims at highlighting the active agency of Japanese artists and patrons in the 16th and 17th centuries by questioning established narratives of "foreign influences" in art historical research. At the turn of the 16th century, concurrent negotiations of a Japanese identity on multiple socio-cultural levels became necessary. First of all, as self-concepts to distinguish the Japanese from the "foreign". While exchanges with China and Korea are traceable to ancient times, the new commerce with the Europeans entailed innovative items, ideologies and more. Secondly, in the course of the political formation of a central government, political and cultural topographies were rearranged. In the field of aesthetics, the connoisseurship in arts from the Asian mainland was still recognized as characteristic of the elite. In contrast, innovative European-style items and artefacts were much appreciated and sought after by a broader public. Nevertheless, artistic images of the foreign, represented in artefacts of this era, often contradicted actual contemporaneous political measures against the Asian mainland and the Europeans respectively. The case studies in this panel will shed light on three positions: In folding screen paintings, a capital-based fashion for European items emerges through ambitious images, pictorially detaching the European foreigners from the inner circle of Miyako. On the other hand, it will be discussed how elite Japanese buyers of tea ceramics deliberately turned to aesthetic principles from Korea and initiated transformations in traditional value systems. Thirdly, in the export lacquer ware market, appropriations answered to European demands, thereby distinguishing foreign and domestic values, while at the same time the traditional system of lacquerwork appointment to the elite transformed into one of freely ordered lacquerware. The papers discuss the conditions of production and the contexts of diverse art forms in the Momoyama era. They also aim to review their research histories in order to reflect current perspectives and receptions of transcultural exchanges.