Between East and West: Reproductions in Art

CIHA Colloquium at the Otsuka Museum of Art in Naruto, Japan January 15-18, 2013


Within the context of art, reproduction typically refers to creating multiple copies of a single design, and to the reproduction of artworks through the traditional manual techniques of woodcutting or engraving, as well as by modern photomechanical or digital processes. At this colloquium, however, reproduction will be interpreted in the broadest sense, encompassing the notions of copy, replica, remake (in the modern and contemporary sense), and even forgery (based on Cesare Brandi’s definition in his famous Theory of Restoration). Therefore, we can say that from antiquity onward, reproductions have contributed in different ways to the development of art and to the continuation and transmission of certain artistic ideas, styles, and techniques throughout history. Such is the case with Roman copies, for example, which played an invaluable role in the transmission of Western art, especially in terms of iconography and style.

Despite the centrality of this issue, no international congress or colloquium held by CIHA has addressed reproduction in a comprehensive manner. One exemplary symposium outside of CIHA which addressed this issue, ‘Retaining the Originals: Multiple Originals, Copies, and Reproductions’, was held at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The proceedings of this gathering were published in a special issue of Studies in the History of Art (Vol. 20 1989), and addressed various problems concerning reproductions in Western art.

Following in the footsteps of the Washington symposium, this CIHA colloquium in Japan aims to further examine the issues concerning reproduction. It will include not only Western art but also that of Japan and East Asia, and encompass comparative and cross-cultural studies in art history. It is also intended as a continuation of the CIHA colloquium ‘Japan and Europe in Art History’, held in Tokyo in 1991, which also dealt with the issues of artistic exchange between Japan and Europe. Additionally, this colloquium will aim to reexamine corollary issues such as authenticity and originality, and to redefine these terms more clearly. Also subject to close scrutiny will be the tastes of individual patrons and collectors with regard to reproduction during different times and within different regions. The ultimate goal is to reevaluate the notion of reproduction and assess with greater precision its significance within the art of the past and the present.

Call for Papers

For full details on how to submit a paper see the website

Applicants may choose any theme concerning ‘reproduction’, which for the purpose of this colloquium will be interpreted in the broadest sense and encompass the notions of copy, replica, remake (in the modern and contemporary sense), and forgery (based on Cesare Brandi’s definition in his famous Theory of Restoration). Although far from exhaustive, here we have provided a list of possible themes.

  • The proliferation of sacred relics and divine or saintly images in Christianity and Buddhism.
  • The proliferation of replicas or copies of a single artwork in medieval and Renaissance workshops.
  • The reproductive or creative print in the medium of woodcutting or engraving.
  • The roles of model books in the process of reproduction.
  • The creative copy or reworking of an canonical artwork in the modern or contemporary period.
  • Copies of antique sculpture or reproductions of it in drawings or prints.
  • Copies which turn into originals.
  • The valuation of copies in relation to originals.
  • The role of copies in art education.
  • The reconstruction of the history of East Asian painting through copies.
  • The status of the original in the digital era.
  • The role of the copy in East Asian Buddhist art.
  • The reproduction of portraiture in pre-modern East Asia.
  • The status of reproductions and copies for pre-modern art collectors.
  • The concept of ‘fang’ or ‘hou’ and the act of copying in East Asian literati painting.
  • The production of copies as a response to earlier works, patterned after the tradition of poetic response to earlier verse (‘honka-dori’) in the genre of Japanese waka poetry.