Jeannie Kenmotsu

Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow in the Humanities

20142015 Forum on Color

Jeannie Kenmotsu

Art History

Jeannie Kenmotsu is a doctoral candidate in the History of Art department. Her research interests focus on the art of early modern Japan, with special attention to illustrated books, prints, and painting. She currently holds a Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography at the Rare Book School, University of Virginia (2014-2017).

Brocade Pictures: Printing Color in Eighteenth-Century Japan

Pictures printed in more than five colors in early modern Japan were known as nishiki-e, or "brocade pictures," an appellation that both signaled their visual richness and immediately distinguished them from prints in monochrome or limited color. My project examines the material objects and competing visual discourses associated with the nishiki-e "revolution," as it has been called, c. 1750-1770. Specifically, early color-printed books challenge the orthodox account of this color revolution, which privileges the medium of single-sheet prints and the figure of an individual artist-genius. I investigate how early color books participated in active negotiations between ways of seeing and of representing the visible, and particularly how they worked to translate lifelikeness in relation to emerging theories of truthfulness in artistic representation (shaseiga) and natural science (honzōgaku).