Read Ideals of the East: The Spirit of Japanese Art by Kakuzō Okakura Free Online
Book Title: Ideals of the East: The Spirit of Japanese Art|
The author of the book: Kakuzō Okakura
Edition: Dover Publications
Date of issue: March 11th 2005
ISBN 13: 9780486440248
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 679 KB
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Written by the foremost authority of the era on Oriental archeology and art, this extremely influential book offers a brief but concise introduction to Asian art. First published in 1883, it responded to a vogue in Western culture for a growing awareness and appreciation of Japanese artistic expressions of beauty and philosophy — a perspective that remains fresh and valid.
Author Kakuzo Okakura (1862–1913) was a co-founder of the Tokyo Fine Art School (now known as Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music) and a curator of Oriental art at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. He also wrote The Book of Tea, and together with this volume, his writings rank among the most widely read English-language works about Japan. Ideals of the East wrought profound effects on the Western understanding of the internal consistencies and strengths of East Asian aesthetic traditions. One of its major themes, the connections between spirituality and the evolution of Asian art, provided English-speaking people with the earliest lucid account of Zen Buddhism and its relation to the arts.
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Read information about the authorOkakura Kakuzō (岡倉覚三), also known as Okakura Tenshin (岡倉 天心), was a Japanese scholar who contributed the development of arts in Japan. Outside Japan, he is chiefly remembered today as the author of 'The Book of Tea'.
Born in Yokohama to parents originally from Fukui, Okakura learned English while attending a school operated by Christian missionary, Dr. Curtis Hepburn. At 15, he entered Tokyo Imperial University, where he first met and studied under Harvard-educated professor Ernest Fenollosa. In 1889, Okakura co-founded the periodical Kokka. A year later he was one of the principal founders of the first Japanese fine-arts academy, the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (東京美術学校 Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakkō), and a year later became its head, although he was later ousted from the school in an administrative struggle. Later, he also founded the Japan Art Institute with Hashimoto Gahō and Yokoyama Taikan. He was invited by William Sturgis Bigelow to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1904 and became the first head of the Asian art division in 1910.
Okakura was a high-profile urbanite who had an international sense of self. In the Meiji period he was the first dean of the Tokyo Fine Arts School (later merged with the Tokyo Music School to form the current Tokyo University of the Arts). He wrote all of his main works in English. Okakura researched Japan's traditional art and traveled to Europe, the United States, China and India. He emphasised the importance to the modern world of Asian culture, attempting to bring its influence to realms of art and literature that, in his day, were largely dominated by Western culture.
His book, 'The Ideals of the East' (1904), published on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War, is famous for its opening line, "Asia is one." He argued that Asia is "one" in its humiliation, of falling behind in achieving modernization, and thus being colonized by the Western powers. This was an early expression of Pan-Asianism. Later Okakura felt compelled to protest against a Japan that tried to catch up with the Western powers, but by sacrificing other Asian countries in the Russo-Japanese War.
In Japan, Okakura, along with Fenollosa, is credited with "saving" Nihonga, or painting done with traditional Japanese technique, as it was threatened with replacement by Western-style painting, or "Yōga", whose chief advocate was artist Kuroda Seiki. In fact this role, most assiduously pressed after Okakura's death by his followers, is not taken seriously by art scholars today, nor is the idea that oil painting posed any serious "threat" to traditional Japanese painting. Yet Okakura was certainly instrumental in modernizing Japanese aesthetics, having recognized the need to preserve Japan's cultural heritage, and thus was one of the major reformers during Japan's period of modernization beginning with the Meiji Restoration.
Outside of Japan, Okakura had an impact on a number of important figures, directly or indirectly, who include philosopher Martin Heidegger, poet Ezra Pound, and especially poet Rabindranath Tagore and heiress Isabella Stewart Gardner, who were close personal friends of his.
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