From sketch to woodblock print 9 September 2022, visit to the depot of the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden, the Netherlands. Curator Japan & Korea of the National Museum of World Cultures and board member of the SJA, Daan Kok, lead us through the collaborative process of woodblock print making.
The Society for Japanese Arts (SJA) is based in the Netherlands. The SJA currently has about 550 members in 24 countries, including prominent museums and institutions. Individual members include collectors of Japanese art, art dealers, individuals with a general interest in Japanese art, and academics specialising in various aspects of Japanese art.
The SJA provides an inspiring platform for sharing knowledge and experience regarding every aspect of the visual and applied arts of Japan. We organize activities such as lectures, symposia, guided exhibition tours by curators or other experts and museum depot visits. Through these activities we provide a forum in which members can exchange ideas and experiences with experts about Japanese art.
Our periodical Andon appears twice a year. Over the years Andon has developed into a scholarly journal with an international reputation. We are also active in social media. On our website we provide seasonal exhibition selections, regular overviews of publications devoted to Japanese art, 'members picks' showcasing Japanese art objects and exhibition reviews.
Discussion with the speakers Jan Dees (lacquer expert), Ching-Ling Wang (curator of Chinese art, Rijksmuseum), Dave van Gompel (Japanese lacquer expert and restorer) and Menno Fitski (head of the department of Asian art, Rijksmuseum) at the end of the Laquer Symposium in the Rijksmuseum, 3 July 2022.
Over the years the SJA has (co-)organised several conferences. In 2023 the SJA will organize the conference The context of Ukiyo-e, on the occasion of the SJA's 85th anniversary. Other conferences the SJA (co)organized are: the Lacquer Symposium (2022, in collaboration with Royal Asian Art Society), Taishō – Years of Irony and Paradox (2023, on the occasion of the SJA's 75th anniversary) and Yoshitoshi, his Life and Works (2011).
The Heinz Kaempfer Fund organized the Kunisada symposium held on 3 March 2017 to celebrate the SJA's 80th anniversary.
Items from SJA members’ collections have graced major and minor exhibitions all over the world. In addition, the SJA has, over the years, taken the initiative for several successful exhibitions, often with accompanying catalogues:
2009 Japan Tattoo, Tattoos in Japanese Prints - Siebold House, Leiden
2007 A Brush with Animals, Japanese Paintings 1700-1950 - Kunsthal, Rotterdam
1998 Kuniyoshi, Heroes & Ghosts - Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
1992 Yoshitoshi, Beauty and Violence - Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
1987 Meiji, Japanese Art in Transition - Municipal Museum, The Hague
1982 Hokusai and his school - Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem
The exhibition Verzameld en gekoesterd, Japanse kunst uit Nederlands particulier bezit (Collected and Cherished, Japanese Art from private collections in the Netherlands), held at the Westfries Museum in Hoorn in 2000, was a celebration of the enthusiasm and dedication of the SJA’s Dutch members.
Most activities are organized in the Netherlands. Some are recorded and posted on our website.
The SJA board consists of:
The Society for Japanese Arts was founded in 1937 by a group of Dutch collectors of and dealers in Japanese art in order to “bring together people interested in or having an interest in the different genres of Japanese art to further the appreciation and encourage the study of the same.” This, in fact, is still the Society’s aim.
Chris C. Krieger, a Japan scholar and curator of Asia at the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, was the Society’s first chairman. Berend Modderman, a bookseller and collector of Japanese prints, became the editor-in-chief of the Society’s Bulletin. In these pre-internet years it was not always easy to find sound, reliable information, and the publication of a periodical was high on the founders’ list of intentions. The first issue of the Bulletin (in Dutch) appeared in October 1938 and was received with general enthusiasm by the Society’s 38(!) members. The organisation of study meetings and (small) exhibitions also formed part of the Society’s activities right from the start.
After the war, attempts were made to restore lost contacts and revive the Society. The Bulletin re-emerged in 1948, but it proved difficult to keep the momentum. It appeared at ever greater intervals and was, in the early 1960s, gradually replaced by a newsletter. As the number of non-Dutch members was steadily increasing, it was decided in 1963 to publish the newsletter in both Dutch and English. In 1972 the Society officially changed its name from Vereeniging voor Japansche Grafiek en Kleinkunst (Society for Japanese Graphic and Minor Arts) to Society for Japanese Arts and Crafts – the ‘Crafts’ were gone by the Society’s 50th anniversary in 1987. The first issue of the English-language journal Andon appeared in 1981. The quarterly newsletter continued to be sent to members by post, until it was replaced by the now familiar email version. The Society is proud of its Heinz Kaempfer Fund, created in 1989 to provide financial support for young scholars.