Scholar Spotlight: Avant-Garde Calligraphy Lecture

Calligraphy & Cultural Exchange between Japan, the United States, and Europe in the Postwar Years

Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan

The connection between Japanese avant-garde calligraphy and European and American abstract art is one of the most fascinating examples of the early-postwar global art exchanges. It shaped an entire generation of artists across the globe, including Georges Mathieu, Pierre Alechinsky, Franz Kline, the Bokujinkai group, and the Gutai group.

Freer and Sackler Galleries fellow Dr. Eugenia Bognanova-Kummer joins us to discuss the perception of Japanese avant-garde calligraphy, in tandem with international abstract painting in the 1950s and early ‘60s, as well as the broader context of artistic and cultural exchange between Europe, Japan, and the United States during this era.

About the Series:

The JICC Seasonal Art Lecture Series from Emerging Scholars featuring a quarterly ‘Scholar Spotlight’ focuses on new research into the Fine Arts of Japan from rising scholars in the field of Japanese art. This series provides the public with new ideas and research on a wide variety of disciplines and art objects from the ancient to the contemporary, and encourages audience engagement with the research topics.


Dr. Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer is an art historian specializing in the history of modern Japanese art and calligraphy. She received her PhD from Heidelberg University, Germany in 2016, and in May 2017 she joined the Freer and Sackler Galleries as a postdoctoral research fellow. Her current book project focuses on the Japanese postwar avant-garde calligraphy group Bokujinkai and its international connections with the European and American abstract art scene. Her other research interests include the global history of futurism, and the political motivations of abstract art.

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