Matthew McKelway Lecture: "Rosetsu in Kushimoto: Painting and Sacred Space in Late 18th-century Japan"


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  • Speaker: Matthew McKelway
  • Host Department: History of Art
  • Date: 02/21/2014
  • Time: 4:00PM

  • Location: 180 Tappan Hall, 855 S. University Ave, Ann Arbor

  • Description:

    In 1786 the painter Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754-1799) spent several months in the southern Kii Peninsula, where he was commissioned to produce paintings for temples that had been destroyed in a tsunami several decades earlier. Preserved in situ until recently, Rosetsu's paintings for Muryoji and other temples in the area offer a rare glimpse at the sustained artistic production by one painter during a concentrated period of time in a region outside the capital. This lecture will attempt to elucidate the scope of Rosetsu's paintings during this period, focusing on his thematic decisions both in and outside sacred spaces, with the goal of defining what it meant to be a painter in late 18th century Japan.

    Matthew McKelway is Takeo and Itsuko Atsumi Associate Professor of Japanese Art History and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Columbia University. He specializes in the history of Japanese painting. He earned his doctorate at Columbia University and conducted his doctoral research at Gakushuin University, where he has spent three additional years as a visiting scholar. His research has focused on urban representation in rakuchu rakugai zu (screen paintings of Kyoto), the development of genre painting in early modern Japan, Kano school painting, and individualist painters in 18th century Kyoto. Interests in the materiality and techniques of Japanese painting and the early Kano workshop have led to recent articles and a current book project on fan paintings as media for social intercourse and pictorial experimentation. In addition to his research on fan paintings, he is conducting an ongoing study of the painter Nagasawa Rosetsu.

    The courses McKelway offers include surveys of Japanese art and more specialized undergraduate courses on painting and Buddhist art. Topics of graduate seminars and lectures have ranged from narrative handscrolls and Muromachi ink painting to the Kano school, Rimpa, and Edo-period painting. To graduate students in Japanese art history and other disciplines he also offers instruction in reading early Japanese scripts (hentaigana / kuzushiji). Current doctoral students have received research fellowships from the Fulbright commission, the Japan Foundation, the Japanese Ministry of Education, and the Shincho Foundation.

    Professor McKelway has been the Ishibashi Gastprofessur at the University of Heidelberg, and has also held visiting professorships at the Free University of Berlin and Waseda University.