This book by renowned art historian John Clark presents an argument that debunks the idea of a 'single' modern Asian art and of a unidirectional flow of influence from West to East. Focusing on Japan, China, India, Thailand, and Indonesia, the text charts a complex ebb and information and transformations, from which emerged diverse modernisms.

'Through a series of empirical micro-histories, the book proceeds to look closely at the conditions for art practice in each country. Prehistories, colonialism, transfers of information, the application of neotraditional art, arts infrastructure, types of artist, modes of exhibition, domains of practice, the avant-garde movement, the influence of nationalism, and issues of integration and autonomy are rigorously explored by the author. The dynamic realm of contemporary Asian art, which today takes the international stage, is also highlighted in later chapters.' - from book flap.

Includes a list of interviews, bibliography, and an index.

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Chapter headings

Introduction: A Disciplinary Field








Prehistory and Modernism

The Chinese and the Jesuits

Dutch Images and Eighteenth-Century Japan

Etching in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Glass Painting in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Knowledge of European Drawing Technique and Oil Painting in Asian Contexts before the 1850s

The Transfer

Models of Transfer

Modalities of Transfer

Types of Culture Mediating Transfer

Formation of the Neotraditional

The Notion of Tradition and its Modern Inapplicability

Towards a Definition of the Neotraditional

Criteria of Modernity and the Neotraditional

Neotraditionalist Painting in India

Some Recent Thai Neotraditional Painting

The Aristocrats

Types of Artists

Hyakutake Kaneyuki

Ravi Varma

Comparison of Aristocratic Artists

Two other Artists in Japan

The Plebeians

The Plebeian Artist

The Reprographic Context

Image Genealogies

The Workshop

Imported Equipment and Technicians

New Popular Visual Discourse

Photography as Technique

Photography as Style

Popular Illustration and 'Fine Art' Prints

The Professional Artist

The Professional

Historical Perspectives on some Major Art Schools in Asia

The Functions of Art Schools

The Artisan Atelier and its Modern Successors

The Regime of the Professional

The Integrated System

The Social Domain of Certification

Beyond the Art World

Exhibition: The Salon and the Establishment

Exhibited Spectacles

Types of Artist Group Structure and Exhibition

Fine Art Societies and Other Exhibition Venues in India

The Salon Structure

Salons and Society

Towards a Tripartite Notion of Art Society

The Scale of Social Time

The Avant-Garde

Definition of Avant-Garde

The Concept of the Avant-Garde

Towards an Asian Avant-Garde

The Avant-Garde as an Institutional Position

Defining Associated Types of Avant-Garde

Defining Functions of Avant-Garde for the Artist

Avant-Garde Art as Criticism

Nationalism and Allegories of the State

Thematic Approaches

Asian Nationalism and Modern Asian Art

Some Subjects in Pictorial Representation of the National

Allegory and National Expression in Art

Cycles of Integration and Autonomy

The Orientalismic Miasma

Types of Relationships between the Local and the International

Features of Relationships between the Local and the International

Features across Specifically Asian Discourses

Critical Functional Values in Modernity

Style as Discourse or as a Marker of Discourse

The Contemporary

The Contemporary as a Site in the Absence of History

Definitions of the Contemporary in the Late 1980s

Discourse Abandoned or Circumvented

Postmodernity or the Modern Extended

Formulations of Taste


International Sites and Spectacles

Historical Forgetting and Remembering

The Heritage of the Past in the Present Discourse of Modern Asian Art

Modern Asian Art
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Modern Asian Art