The Fine Art of Persuasion: Corporate Advertising Design, Nation, and Empire in Modern Japan (in progress)

Asian woman on skis
Gennifer Weisenfeld

Modern Japanese graphic design has consistently been heralded at home and abroad as one of the country’s most creative areas of artistic production in the twentieth century. Among the arts in Japan, these mass produced images have had an incomparably widespread social and political impact on the daily life of the general public. Yet despite significant expansion of the Euro-American field of modern Japanese art and design history in the last decade, there has been no interpretive study of the practices or theoretical matrix of Japanese commercial art (shōg bijutsu) during its formative years from the turn of the century through the Asia-Pacific War into the postwar period. This book project maps the social relationship between art and commerce in Japan through an examination of the central role of graphic design in the development of mass media and modern advertising. By explicating the crucial mediation of design and designers in the contested terrain between corporate producers, the state, and consumer (civil) society, The Fine Art of Persuasion will fundamentally reconsider the standard view of modern Japanese visual culture.