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The Brittle Decade: Visualizing Japan in the 1930s

ISBN: 9780878467693 | 0878467696
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Distributed Art Pub Inc
Pub. Date: 7/31/2012

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One of the most controversial yet underexplored periods in modern Japanese history, the early Showa era of the 1920s-1930s remains a time of fascination, mystery and crucial historical importance. The "era of enlightened peace" saw unprecedented modernization and conservative ultra-nationalism, financial opulence and economic upheaval, an embrace of Western customs alongside a military build-up that pitted Japan against the West. It was also a period of vibrant visual creation. This volume presents the aesthetic and social history of early Showa Japan through a variety of paintings, textiles, prints, postcards and period documents, most of them never before published. Included are an essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John W. Dower on the social and historical context of Japan in the 1920s and 1930s; a discussion of paintings depicting such modern leisure activities as skiing and sailing, and how they fit into the spirit of the times; a presentation of remarkable propaganda kimonos, which graphically (and sometimes chillingly) celebrate Japan's growing military presence; and an essay detailing Japan's complex attitudes toward Western fashion, sports, and popular culture. One of the few books available to study this complex period, this volume is also the only one to present it through its most striking visual artworks.

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