The panel on Japanese images from the nineteenth century addresses materiality as a stage of negotiation between artistic and art historical discourses. Three case studies illuminate the flexibility of artistic material in the intertwined networks of producing and collecting Japanese artefacts.
Significant shifts within art history in recent years do change not only what material is studied, but also the materiality of the academic subject itself. Besides phenomena such as digital art history, research also focuses on non-academic traditions of art historical discourse and visual cultures beyond the canon. In pre-modern Japan, artists naturally engaged in art historical knowledge production not only as producers, but also as distributors, authenticators, and collectors of art. Their paintings and prints functioned as visual media of art historical discourse. This panel addresses materiality as a stage of negotiation between artistic and art historical discourse in nineteenth-century Japan. It approaches artworks as materials of both, visual art and individual art histories. Every album, every room decorated with paintings, every exhibition, every collection of artworks arranges and establishes orders of images in the sense of an art history in a nutshell. At the same time, these orders of images primarily served different individual, religious, and social needs, often overlooked in art history. Three case studies illuminate the flexibility of artistic material in the intertwined networks of producing, collecting and interpreting Japanese visual arts. One focus is set on the sociability of art creation, consumption, and collection inside Japanese visual cultures. Remountings and rearrangements of images from one medium to another is another form, in which collectors intervened not only with the general conditions of artworks, but their actual materiality. Last but not least, all three papers deal with Japanese artefacts from European collections. The flexibility of artistic material is therefore also discussed in regard to transfers from one episteme to another one. While the material seems to stay the same at first glance, transpositions and regroupings affect artworks' conditions and agency.