The International Consortium on Art History

12th International Springtime Academie

Wakugumi (Frameworks/ Cadres conceptuels) in Art History
- Cross views between the West and Asia -

Tokyo, 9-13 June 2014

==> Program and abstracts (PDF)


The XIIth Spring Academy organized by the International Consortium on Art History will take place in Tokyo (Department of Comparative Literature and Culture, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Komaba) from the 9th to the 13th of June 2014 and titled Wakugumi (cadres conceptuels/ frameworks) in Art History. The Academy will be an opportunity for doctoral students and recent PhDs from diverse origins and specialties to share their research, their approaches and their experience in a meeting during which they will cooperate with more advanced scholars. The programs of previous Spring Academies can be found on the site Participation in a Spring Academy is required to obtain a supplementary diploma from the International Consortium. We encourage candidates, either doctoral students or recent PhDs, to propose precise contributions related to their particular research, whatever the period or particular domain they study, and whatever the media they wish to address. A Bibliography and details about the Spring Academy will be posted on the web site of the host institution :

There are several, or rather numerous kinds of art history in the world. This indubitable fact is not yet sufficiently acknowledged in spite of the spread of such concepts as “global art” or “world art”. The 2014 Spring Academy in Tokyo will examine the situation. The focus of our meeting can be summed up by the Japanese term “wakugumi” (rendered here by “frameworks” in English). Works of art are both produced and received according to the wakugumi to which they belong and which differ according to each place and each culture. Although the production of images is a universal phenomenon, works of art are filled with local cultural characteristics. The aim in Tokyo will be to confront the Western wakugumi with those of Japan and other Asian countries. Our aim will be to foreground the different modalities of art history in these areas, and to subject value judgments to the cultural conditions of art productions in different areas in a comparative approach.
This will be done according to the five following aspects

1) Framing devices
How are works of art framed, literally and metaphorically? This is a fundamental issue in order to consider our topic. The framing or setting of a work of art has two distinct aspects. One is literal and material : frames for pictures, pedestals for sculptures, architectural settings, installation in museums and galleries, the “scenography” of exhibitions. The other aspect refers to the institutional setting, the critical and historiographic context, the agents that enhance the work of art from outside. The wagukumi are related to the problematics of the parergon, referring to the physical setting of the work, but also to the conceptual apparatus that conditions the work’s reception, which vary from one culture to the next.

2) Valorization and hierarchies
The diversity of value systems is apparent in the different hierarchies of media, techniques and genres. Do the Western artistic media, architecture, painting, sculpture, prints, have equivalents in Japan and other parts of Asia? Does the hierarchy of genres according to subject matter as it rules traditional Western painting apply to Japan and Asia? In the West the primacy of historical painting over the lower genres (portrait, landscape, genre scenes, and still life) is clearly apparent. But in Japan and China the status of landscape (called sansui-ga (painting of mountain and water) is superior to that of the other genres, because of the particular conception of nature in that culture. The hierarchic difference in the value system between the West and Japan on issues as fundamental as the importance assigned to nature, and to the body in its relation to nature, deserves to be made explicit, philosophically but also practically as it affects the mechanisms of monetary valuation in the art market.

3) Representation of time and space
Each culture has its own artistic ways and formulas for representing space and time. The West invented linear perspective and foreshortening, as well as other devices (chromatic, atmospheric perspective…) in order to produce the illusion of a three dimensional space on a flat surface; but one finds different devices to suggest space in Japanese or Chinese painting: reverse perspective, bird eye view, the so-called triple perspective (san-en-ho). Similarly, the pictorial representation of the passing of time is different in each culture. It is also variable according to the particular pictorial format - one example, but not the only one, being the difference between painting on horizontal or vertical scrolls, which also affects the representation of space.
4) Decoration
The status of decoration in the art system must play a privileged part in this Spring Academy because the place of the decorative arts, so-called, and more generally of the decorative, is dominant in Japanese art. In the Western tradition the decorative arts are considered inferior to the fine arts (architecture, sculpture painting). But in Japan, not only are the decorative arts extraordinarily rich, but the primacy of decorative values is also obvious in painting, whether on scrolls or the painted screens of the Rinpa school. It would be useful to reexamine the different function and meaning of decoration between the West and Japan on the basis of specific examples from both cultures.

5) Transmission and fusion
There have been numerous artistic exchanges between the West and Japan. It was above all in the second half of the 19th century that Japonism flourished in European and American art; conversely, Japanese painting was renewed with the introduction of Western painting. These exchanges have generated conflicts between two different wakugumi, resulting in fusions or appropriations between two different modes of making and understanding art. The same type of phenomena can be found between the West and other Asian countries such as China, Korea, or India. We shall examine these crossed or hybridized art works from both sides of the cultural divide; this mutual relation will allow us better to understand the art of each culture.


It is in this perspective that the XIIth Spring Academy wishes to explore the issue of wakugumi in depth. We welcome proposals from students working on any subject that could contribute to this study of conceptual frameworks in the widest sense. We expect topics from ancient and medieval subjects as well as early modern, modern and contemporary eras. Proposals can be on any subject at all, as long as the paper addresses some of the issues discussed above. How can one relate very specific research objects to the intellectual context suggested by the notion of wakugumi? What does the notion of wakugumi contribute and what new opportunities does its application bring to the analysis of art works? What new orientations does it suggest for a comparatist approach and to the study of objects and works of art previously neglected or disregarded by art history? This is not meant as an exhaustive set of questions; it is only here to give a general idea of the kind of questions that this Academy hopes to raise and investigate. This Academy will allow doctoral students and post-docs in art history and related disciplines to get together and exchange viewpoints, to present the material they study and the approaches they bring to it, and to discuss the consequences of the globalization of art history for their specific research as well as for the discipline in general. Proposals that aim at linking different areas of research are welcome, as are those that examine the relation of the presenter’s specific research to wakugumi and their contribution to the main problematics of this Spring Academy.
This Spring Academy in Tokyo will also be an outstanding opportunity for Western and Japanese or Asian researchers to get acquainted through scholarly exchanges. A deeper understanding of different cultures will be an invaluable experience for scholars living in the era of globalization.

The five aspects described above will constitute the five sessions of the 2014 Spring Academy in Tokyo:
1) Framing devices
2) Valorization and hierarchies
3) Representation of time and space
4) Decoration
5) Transmission and fusion

The call for papers will be posted on the websites of the Consortium (, of the Department of Comparative Literature and Culture (DCLC,, of the INHA (, as well as those of the member institutions of the Consortium.

Graduate or post-graduates who wish to participate should send a proposal for a paper no longer than 20 minutes, as well as a short CV specifying the foreign language(s) they master. Proposals should be no longer than 1800 signs or 300 words, and can be written in English, French, German or Italian. They should be formatted in a Word document, and include the candidate’s name, her/his addresses (both electronic and postal), the country and institution she/he is attached to, and the session they think their contribution best fits in.

The proposal and CV should be sent as attachment to an e-mail as one single document. The “subject” line of the e-mail must specify the name of the candidate and the country of his/her institution. The proposals are to be addressed to : before Monday, January 6, 2014.

Proposals will be collected, examined, and selected by each country. The national representatives will send the accepted proposals by e-mail to the organizing committee before the 28th of February 2014. After consultation with the scientific committee of the consortium, the organizing committee will establish the final program of the Academy. The selection of participants will be announced mid-March on the websites of the Consortium, the DCLC, the INHA and the member institutions of the Consortium.

The selected candidates must send a summary (300 words maximum), as well as its translation in another official language of the Consortium. These summaries and translations must be sent by April 30th to : in a Word document and accompanied with a Power Point presentation.

Since the participants will present their work in their mother tongue, mastery of other languages is essential. Participants of Latin countries should at least be able to understand spoken English or German; conversely, the German or English speaking ones should understand French or Italian.

Applications as respondent
Students who participated twice or more times in previous Academies can only apply as respondents. This is a way of encouraging young scholars, whether post-doc or PhD candidates who are already far along, to participate in the Academies by opening the discussion at the end of each session. The respondents will do a critical assessment of the session, ask new questions and open the debate to new problematic, whether or not they were already brought up by the participants. They can also open new alleys for the discussion suggested by their own research.

Those interested in participating to this Academy as respondents should send their application according to the application procedure described above : by sending a CV to their national representative by the 28th of February 2014. Instead of a proposal for a paper they should send a short letter explaining their reasons to apply and their specific competence.

As in previous years, members of the Consortium are invited either to propose a paper or to chair a session. Professors who wish to contribute to the program should inform the Organizing Committee by e-mail before February 28 at the following address :

Atsushi Miura (The University of Tokyo)
Department of Comparative Literature and Culture, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Komaba, Japan

Réseau International pour la Formation à la Recherche en Histoire de l'Art/The International Consortium of Art History (

Chair : Michael F. Zimmermann, Eichstätt et Munich
Honorary Chairs : Ségolène Le Men, Paris
Henri Zerner, Boston (Mass.) et Paris
Vice-Presidents : Todd Porterfield, Montréal ; Maria Grazia Messina, Florence et Rome
Members of the Committee : Jan Blanc, Genève ; Nadeije Laneyrie-Dagen, Paris ; Thomas Kirchner, Francfort-sur-le-Main ; Johanne Lamoureux, Montréal ; David Peters-Corbett et Bronwen Wilson, Norwich

Canada : Johanne Lamoureux et Todd Porterfield (Université de Montréal) ; France : Frédérique Desbuissons (Institut national d'histoire de l'art), Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel (École normale supérieure de Paris), Claire Barbillon et Ségolène Le Men (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense) ; Germany: Thomas Kirchner (Francfort-sur-le-Main, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität) et Michael F. Zimmermann (Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt) ; United Kingdom : David Peters-Corbett et Bronwen Wilson (Norwich, University of East Anglia) ; Italy : Marco Collareta (Università di Pisa) et Maria Grazia Messina (Università degli studi di Firenze) ; Switzerland : Jan Blanc (Université de Genève) ; pour les États-Unis, Henri Zerner (Harvard University) ; Japon, Atsushi Miura (Université de Tokyo)