Retracting a diagnosis of madness: a reconsideration of Japanese eccentric art
Salel, Stephen Francis
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"Eccentric art" has been a recognized category of Japanese art history since the 18th century. In an attempt to define "eccentricity" in this context, several literary studies of Japanese eccentric art are reviewed and critiqued. A careful examination of Kinsei kijin-den (Biographies of Eccentrics from the Early Modern Era) reveals its basis in religious Daoism and signs of influence by the Daoist text Strange Traces of Immortals and Buddhas (Ch: Xianfo qizong). In light of this fact, many works by well-known Japanese eccentric artists, including portraits of the Chinese monks Hanshan (Jpn: Kanzan) and Shide (Jpn: Jittoku), are re-evaluated and shown to possess Daoist significance. Based upon these findings, a Daoist definition of eccentricity is proposed. This discussion concludes with a consideration of contemporary artists influenced by the traditions of Japanese eccentric art.An English translation of Tsuji Nobuo's Kiso no keifu (The Lineage of Eccentricity) comprises Appendix A.
- Art history