Japan has produced three-dimensional representational art in several genres from ancient times, including Buddhist and Shinto images, architectural ornamentation, and dolls and display figures, which are all today subsumed in the general category of sculpture, but the concept of the realistic representation of the human form in the tradition of Western sculpture, as art rather than as a religious image, decor, or a toy, only entered Japan at the very end of the nineteenth century, several decades later than the introduction of Western painting. In the early years, ivory display objects, netsuke, and other craft products were produced for export, and sculptural works were sponsored to commemorate famous personages and historical events, but the first Japanese sculptors recognizable as individual artists in the modern sense were Morie Ogiwara(1879-1910) and Kotaro Takamura(1883-1956) both active in the first decades of the twentieth century.
The development of modern sculpture in Japan in the 1920s was by no means a smooth or simple process. The Japanese sculptors who studied under Antoine Bourdelle(1861-1929), disciple of Auguste Rodin(1840-1917), and Aristide Maillol(1861-1944) brought twentieth-century ideas back to Japan. At the same time, numerous changes were occurring in the traditional world of Wood sculpture, and after World War II, currents of abstract art also arrived and Influenced the work of Japanese sculptors.
The present work is being published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, which showcases the development of modern Japanese sculpture from the mid-nineteenth century through the 1960s, in the process examining the meaning of the concept of modernism in Japanese sculpture from various perspectives. To date there have been far fewer attempts to gain an overview of the history of modern sculpture in Japan than, for example, painting, and research on the subject is also unfortunately still insufficient. It is our hope that this exhibition and the accompanying catalogue will stimulate interest in reexamining modern Japanese sculpture and serve as a fortuitous opportunity to introduce the broader public to the abundant pleasures it has to offer.
We would like to thank all who have contributed to and supported both the exhibition and the catalogue.
Saburo Hasegawa, Director, The Miyagi Museum of Art
TakakuniInoue, Director, Mie Prefectural Art Museum
Tetsuo Tsujimura, Director, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo