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Shirakaba and Rodin: A Transnational Dialogue between Japan and France

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This essay examines the role of Shirakaba (White Birch, 1910-1923) as an art magazine that aspired to create new audiences and foster the exchange of ideas by providing an alternate space to address diverse views about modern art, literature, theory, and identity. In addition to introducing European modernism to Japan through the writings of western artists, authors, and thinkers, Shirakaba created access to and direct exchange of artwork with a number of artists such as Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), Heinrich Vogeler (1872-1942), Max Klinger (1857-1920), and Bernard Leach (1887-1979). Among these, Shirakaba’s transnational dialogue with the French sculptor Auguste Rodin was the most significant. I argue that Shirakaba’s discourse with Rodin not only facilitated new forums for the public access and display of modern art in Japan, but also was emblematic of its humanist ideology rooted in artistic subjectivity and self-expression.

Affiliations: 1: Haverford College


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