Unpinning History : Japanese Posters in the Age of Commercialism, Imperialism, and Modernism

Heiwa Kinen Tokyo Hakurankai/The Tokyo Peace Exhibition

Designed for the Tokyo Peace Exhibition, the poster depicts a standing woman, in a style reflecting Japan’s ancient shamaness, and gives a sense of peace and harmony. She is holding a torch or mirror, which evokes people's memories of the First World War. The background architecture is symmetrically composed. In addition, the placement of the woman and the exhibition title contribute to a formal or proportional balance, creating a sense of stability and confidence. In contrast, the upper portion of the poster has fewer pictorial elements, allowing viewers’ focus on the exhibition title, doves, and the gleaming torch or mirror against the sky. In particular, by inserting artificial light, the poster seems to further emphasize the exhibition as an embodiment of humanity and the idea of peace in 1920s Japan as much as it speaks to the period’s design practice in combining Western and Japanese elements. (Alvin Huang)

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