The Fine Art of Persuasion: Corporate Advertising Design, Nation, and Empire in Modern Japan

Gennifer Weisenfeld
Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies
Duke University

This book tells the story of the birth of commercial art in Japan from the turn of the twentieth century through its global efflorescence in the total design event of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Until recently, there has been little systematic effort to analyze Japanese advertising and commercial art production within the broader context of world design history, while also taking into account the wide-ranging cultural implications of Japan’s emerging consumer capitalism and the ideological formations of nation- and empire-building. Such a study requires the challenging integration of the disparate scholarly spheres of art, design, business, social, and political history as aesthetics are read back into the sociology of consumption. This integrative interpretation illuminates the immense creativity imbued in aesthetic responses to new business systems as well as the profound impact that consumer capitalism has had on the development of modern Japanese art and visual culture.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 2.3: St. John’s University on Saturday, January 16, 2016.