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Radicals and Realists in the Japanese Nonverbal Arts: The Avant-Garde Rejection of Modernism


University of Hawaii Press




Havens’s book is highly valuable as an introduction to artists across multiple disciplines and for its emphasis on the oral testimony of Japanese avant-garde artists who were active in the 1950s and 1960s. Focusing on what the author calls “the most progressive” individuals involved in “the nonverbal arts” in postwar Japan, Havens offers a view of a changing terrain of artistic politics. The project is transnational in focus, comparative, and privileges the voices of the artists interviewed. The emphasis is very much on what is said about art rather than analysis.

Key concepts: modernity, modernism, “the West/the Other,” “post-Western,” the everyday, avant-garde