Organized Panel Session
This presentation examines paintings of Mount Fuji produced during the Second World War by Japanese-style painter Yokoyama Taikan (1868-1959), attending to their specific meaning and style. Mount Fuji has been a popular motif throughout the history of Japanese art and visual culture, famously portrayed by such artists as Sesshū Tōyo, Kanō Tan’yū, and Katsushika Hokusai in works functioning as religious icons and landscape paintings/prints. In the public discourse of the 1930s and early 1940s, however, the mystical appearance of the mountain was understood as an icon of the Japanese spirit and of the divine imperial land and a martial symbol, depicted with and on war planes and tanks. The paintings by Taikan, who discussed Mount Fuji in combination with Japan’s fighting spirit against China, the United States, and Britain, and who submitted his work to the 1940 Celebration of the Japanese Imperial Reign’s 2600thAnniversary, exemplify this wartime public cultural practice, but the popularity of his works stems from the new visual vocabularies the artist effectively developed. More specifically, Taikan’s paintings deliberately stay away from the Chinese model of landscape painting previously associated with Mount Fuji and instead incorporate the modern technique of photomontage.