Talk: The Thirty-first Annual Michele and Peter Berton Memorial Lecture on Japanese Art

3:30 pm | Sun, December 9, 2018
Brown Auditorium

The Japanese Folding Fan in the Hands of Modernity

The folding fan has long been an icon of Japan in the Western imagination. This is not surprising when one considers that fans were, along with woodblock prints and photographs, important early vehicles for the transmission of Japanese visual culture abroad. Yet while popular woodblock prints were zealously celebrated overseas, fans were rarely held in such high esteem. How is it that such a dynamic and long-lived genre in East Asia came to occupy such a marginal place in modern art history?

Guided by this question, this lecture will tell the global history of these sophisticated objects, from Japan’s Heian period (794–1192 CE) to their contemporary relevance in the twenty-first century. We will look at several of the major landmarks of Japanese fan painting, briefly trace the technology’s international dispersal, and scrutinize the fraught nature of their rediscovery in the nineteenth century. Of particular interest in this lecture will be the relationship of the fan to the performance of gender, both in Japan and abroad.

Kristopher W. Kersey is assistant professor in the Department of Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research concerns the intersecting histories of Japanese art, material culture, and design. Past fellowships include the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship (predoctoral) at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington as well as the Anne van Biema Fellowship (postdoctoral) at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

LACMA | Brown Auditorium
Free and open to the public
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Image: Fan-Shaped Incense Box (detail), Japan, late 19th–early 20th century, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Miss Bella Mabury, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

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