Japan’s Culture Affairs Agency is about to embark upon a new effort, according to Yomiuri Shimbun, “to create a framework for more accurately valuing works created by Japanese artists. Museums featuring contemporary art wil play a leading role in this project, conducting research on both domestic and foreign art markets and establishing networks with their overseas counterparts. Specialized curators will also be appointed.”
The agency aims to help museums upgrade their functions so that Japan can better promote the appeal of its artists to the world by reversing the trend in which Japanese are recognized only after their works are appraised overseas. This has not only been the case with contemporary artists like Kusama, but also with artists of the past. Ukiyo-e, for example, triggered the Japonism movement in the West after attracting interest from Westerners. The Gutai (concreteness) and Mono-ha (school of things) post-World War II avant-garde movements won fresh recognition after exhibitions were held in the United States.
The problem seems to be that Japan’s government is waking up to the importance of art and a domestic art market in a the global economy. Seeing recent reports that give Japan’s art market only 1 percent of the global art market, Japan is trying to address some fundamental issues about the structure of its domestic art market which has a unique structure.
Primary sales still take place in department stores as well as galleries, not art fairs.
The Art Tokyo Association, which runs the nation’s biggest art fair, and the Platform for Arts and Creativity jointly surveyed the domestic market and estimated its value to be ¥243.1 billion.
“Artwork could become a resource for Japan, but right now, our overseas promotion efforts are insufficient,” a Cultural Affairs Agency official said. “It’ll become important to boost the value of art pieces, which is also necessary to help next-generation artists develop their careers.”
Striving to put domestic art in global spotlight (The Japan News)