Art: No More Tributes to Mount Fuji

A Japanese show explodes Western preconceptions

For centuries, a deeply rooted appreciation of nature has played a central role in the spiritual and cultural life of Japan. Japanese artists traditionally reflected this reverence not in intellectual abstractions but concretely, in highly stylized representations of specific rivers, mountains, plants and animals. As in other aspects of Japanese thought and behavior, artists were expected to remain respectful of the past and concentrate on certain well-established forms and techniques. But during the Meiji era (1868-1912), modernism was introduced from the West, knocking major dents in this rigid system with an emphasis on innovation, individualism and the search for new forms....

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