Introduction: Japan after the 1960s: The Ends of the Avant-Garde

Peter Eckersall, Edward Scheer


It is widely acknowledged that dramatic changes wrought in 1960s Japan were such that art and cultural practice were transformed into an emergent avant-gardism. Hybridity, physical and intellectual intensity, formal innovations and transgressive acts are all characteristics of 1960s theatre, dance, cinema, literature and performance art in Japan and elsewhere.

The 1960s era was significant not least for the emergence of new aesthetics connected to a rapid evolution of political sensibilities. In Japan, as in Europe and America, artists were rethinking materials and forms often in terms of bodies juxtaposed with mediated spaces and objects. Art works began rejecting academic and formal qualities of art and instead related to the everyday experience of the world, foregrounding experiences of time and immediate sensory perception in a language which was conceptual and dynamic.

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