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Yuka Kadoi. New Perspectives on the Arts of East Asia and Beyond

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as East Asian art was incorporated into the major narrative of art history, most studies were confined to the formalistic analysis of the decorative arts, paintings, sculptures and architecture of China, Korea and Japan. This ‘golden triangle’ of East Asian civilization – with China at the top – was therefore for a long time a dominant precept in the history of art, culture and society of the region.

Recent interdisciplinary trends in the study of non-Western art have encouraged us to look more widely at several cross-cultural networks, and this academic stance continues to stimulate debate as to whether or not art and its history can be or should be global. This provocative question has emerged as a response to the reassessment of the nature of art history – a discipline that was essentially derived from a 19th century European concept of classicism-driven Kunstgeschichte. With the drastic erosion of cultural boundaries during recent decades, it has become clear that the dichotomy of Western art versus non-Western art is no longer valid: it is therefore increasingly argued that the categorical definition of East Asian art as one unit should be replaced by a much broader, trans-Asian framework. On the other hand, if East Asian art possesses a global significance, how is it possible to utilize the diverse visual and material cultures of the region in the reframing of the complexity and dynamics of civilizational contacts?

 

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