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See/Saw: Connections Between Japanese Art Then and Now Paperback – February 23, 2011

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Frequently Bought Together

See/Saw: Connections Between Japanese Art Then and Now + Bye Bye Kitty!!!: Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art (Japan Society Series) + From Postwar to Postmodern, Art in Japan, 1945 1989: Primary Documents (MoMa Primary Documents)
Price for all three: $76.33

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (February 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811869571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811869577
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A densely informative book, "See/Saw" is a fluid read for the amateur and novice alike and is packed with intriguing insights and compelling artwork." -- Karen Day, Cool Hunting

"See/Saw offers a provocative new look at the origins of Japanese pop art." Foreword Reviews

"Clear, concise and informative, highly recommended." -- Hi Fructose

About the Author

Ivan Vartanian is an author and editor based in Tokyo, Japan.

Kyoko Wada is an art writer, critic, and historian living in Japan.

More About the Author

Ivan Vartanian (b. 1972) is native of New York, where he attended New York University, majoring in Biochemistry. After working for Aperture in the mid-1990s, he moved to Tokyo, Japan, where he has been living ever since. We writes, edits, and produces books on art, photography, and design. For additional web-only content on Ivan's books, visit his company's website at www.goliga.com

Currently, he is reading David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" in tandem with Will Self's "How the Dead Live" and Carl Sagan's "The Varieties of Scientific Experience".

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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"Then and Now" has become a common trope in photography books, typically showing a historical image side-by-side with the same location shot today, to show how things have changed. This book is NOT like that. Rather, it seeks to contextualize the contemporary in the history of Japanese art, using a series of themes to explore both the art and the themes themselves. Some, like the pair on the cover illustration, do approximate the then-and-now trope, but most do not. This is a more complicated project.

The seven themes used here are Allusion (mitate), Space (ma), Kabuki (yes, kabuki), Diorama (kei), Animism (tama), Jest (tawake), and Empty (mu). Each then has a series of subdivisions, some revolving around very specific design elements, or specific artists, others more general, or even philosophical. Genres of art include not only painting and printmaking, but some architecture and gardening, furniture and decorative arts, sculpture, photography - this not to pretend to be truly comprehensive, which would be impossible anyway, but to at least begin to reflect the variety of Japanese art-making.

One of the really nice things about this book is, for those who are primarily interested in contemporary Japanese art, it provides a pretty decent and engaging survey of the history of art in Japan, with some really great examples along the way. There's also a historical timeline, and biographical sketches of artists (divided into three periods: Feudal, Early Modern, and Modern) to convey the information succinctly. I don't know if there are people who don't know/like contemporary Japanese art but understand the history, but if so it would probably help in that direction as well.
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