The first book on Japanese calligraphy that covers the significant Momoyama and Edo periods (1568-1868), 77 Dances examines the art of writing at a time when it was undergoing a remarkable flowering, as illustrated by over one hundred sumptuous illustrations. Everything from complex Zen conundrums to gossamer haiku poems were written with verve, energy, and creativity that display how deeply the fascination for calligraphy had penetrated into the social fabric of Japan. Examining the varied groups of calligraphers creating works for diverse audiences will show how these artistic worlds both maintained their own independence and interacted to create a rich brocade of calligraphic techniques and styles.
The book begins with basic information on calligraphy, followed by six main sections, each representing a major facet of the art, with an introductory essay followed by detailed analyses of the seventy-seven featured works. The essays include:
Foreword to the book
- The revival of Japanese courtly aesthetics in writing out waka poems on highly decorated paper
- The use of Chinese writing styles and script forms
- Scholars who took up the brush to compose poems in Chinese expressing their Confucian ideals
- Calligraphy by major literati poets and painters
- The development of haiku as practiced by master poet-painters
- The work of famous Zen masters such as Hakuin and Ryokan
The University of Richmond Museums is pleased to be instrumental in the organization and national tour of this important and stunningly beautiful exhibition of Japanese calligraphy, 77 Dances: , Japanese Calligraphy by Poets, Monks, and Scholars, 1968-1868, which presents seventy-seven objects that let us explore the remarkably creative flowering of the art of writing during Japan's early modern period. On loan from several public and private collections in the United States, the objects were selected not only because the artists are historically important but also because the works exemplify the varieties of scripts and brushwork so beautifully employed in the calligraphy of the period. The traditional belief that the freedom of the brush inherently reveals one's inner character encourages us to consider each of these works as a unique expression of the artist's personality as well as collectively giving us a glimpse into the culture that held calligraphy in such high esteem.
The Momoyama and Edo periods (1568-1868), when Japan was ruled by powerful shoguns, were a time of great variety in the arts, including a renewed interest in calligraphy. In this "early modern" period, peace and relative prosperity replaced the civil warfare of the previous century, and artistic production and patronage spread through the population more than ever before. Calligraphy was practiced by classical-style poets, poets in Chinese style, Confucian scholars, literati artists, haiku poets, and Zen Masters, as represented in this exhibition. Furthermore, they wrote their texts on a number of media including screens, hanging scrolls, hand scrolls, albums, fans, and ceramics, all of which can be seen here. For the first time, the full range of early modern Japanese calligraphy is available for Western audiences, and we hope this will stimulate further scholarship and exhibitions.
To the author, our colleague Stephen Addiss, we are indebted for introducing us to this intriguing area of Japanese culture and for curating this exquisite exhibition. In addition to his unexcelled knowledge of Japanese art, he brings both enthusiasm and a refreshing originality of thought to the exhibition and its catalogue essay. As part of the faculty of the University of Richmond as the Tucker-Boatwright Professor in the Humanities-Art and Professor of Art History, he continues to enrich the study of art and art history for our students as well as enriching the entire university community with his intellectual curiosity and energetic pursuance of scholarship. This current project is the latest addition to the fascinating exhibitions Dr. Addiss has curated for our museum.
The experience of the exhibition's seventy-seven dances is a rare opportunity to revel in the art of beautiful writing of Japan's early modern period. Enjoy the dances! Richard Waller, Executive Director University of Richmond Museums
Stephen Addiss, PH.D., is Tucker- Boatwright Professor in the Humanities: Art at the University of Richmond, Virginia, as well as a world-renowned calligrapher. He is the author of some thirty-five books, including How to Look at Japanese Art, The Art of Zen, and The Art of Chinese Calligraphy.
1st edition 2006, Hb, 259pp, over 100 illustrations, 22.7 x 30.3 cm