Cultural Interrelations between Europe and Japan Observed in Printed Art – an Artist’s View

prof. Michael Schneider
(The Tokyo University of the Arts [Geidai])

With print and printed art, an Asian innovation changed the western world profoundly. We tend to describe the world since the technological revolution of print shaped it to form the so-called “Gutenberg Universe”, but in fact this Universe is much bigger and it has a history of cultural interrelation. A few examples will highlight the process and will be discussed under the premise that today’s art history is not just a history of art but more precisely a history of printed and published art. Looking at the interrelation, interdependence and cross cultural influencing between Japan and Europe as well as at the importance of publishing and distributing images for the visual culture that is in a process of quick globalization, invites us to further research and debate. After studying printmaking in Europe and Japan, my career of almost 30 years as a printmaking artist allowed me to go forth and back between Japan and Europe. Now living, working and teaching in Japan, I have a chance to look at the familiar western view at the world from a distance which sharpens my critical view and enables revaluation of particular phenomena. An artist’s view on the aforementioned interrelation between Europe and Japan will not only focus on the artefacts, but also on the processes and materials needed to create them, as well as the necessity for the artists to find a way to survive within their respective society.