University of Leicester
2023ChenYPhD.pdf (68.56 MB)

Exhibitionary Spaces in Japanese Art, 1860s-1970s: Models, Terminologies and Territories

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posted on 2023-05-11, 09:34 authored by Yang Chen

This thesis examines the role of exhibitionary spaces during a period that spans the Tokyo artistic milieu’s localisation of Western European and Northern American concepts of fine art, museum and exhibition, and the establishment of a modern art system. Whereas existing scholarship on these has primarily concentrated on art historical and museological analysis of artists and collections, this thesis demonstrates the need to study exhibitionary spaces, their histories, and the shifting terminology used to describe and define them.

Grounded by extensive archival research, this thesis addresses the use of temples, bijutsukan (art-prioritising institutions) and alternative spaces by artists and other key agents who occupied central, peripheral and intermediate positions within the artistic milieu. Drawing from Reiko Tomii’s collectivism and the Deleuzoguattarian concept of ‘territory’, this thesis analyses the exhibitionary operations that these agents deployed, in relation to specific spaces, one another, and the shifting geopolitical dynamics of the specified historical period. It contends that exhibitionary spaces functioned as a physical ground for the artistic milieu’s localisation of new concepts in the pre-modern period (1868-1907), the establishment of a mainstream institutional system and independent models in the modern period (1907-1945), and the deterritorialisation of artistic and exhibitionary borders during the contemporary period (1945-1970s).



Isobel Whitelegg; Suzanne Macleod

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Museum Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD