Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas


  • Looking at Objects, Experiencing Art: Okakura Kakuzō and the Debate over How to Encounter Things
  • Lecture
  • 11/16/2017
  • 17:00-18:00
  • Lawrence, Kansas
  • Host: Kress Foundation Department of Art History and Spencer Museum of Art
Event Description
What is aesthetic experience, and what kind of an environment or an attitude is conducive to arousing this rarefied experience? Art history has privileged a close study of objects as among its primary methods and even goals of scholarly investigation, but it has also been criticized that this sustained exercise of viewing art as “objects,” detached from their surroundings and also from the viewing subject, is disconnected, even antithetical, to the aesthetic experience. The efficacy of the museum experience has often served as a focal point in this longstanding philosophical debate, as museums are institutions where visitors anticipate a meaningful encounter with art. This talk by Dr. Noriko Murai considers this larger issue as it surfaced in the thought of the Japanese art historian Okakura Kakuzō (1863-1913) in the early twentieth century. Okakura was challenged to reflect on the nature of aesthetic experience from a cross-cultural perspective, through his work for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and through friendship with figures such as Isabella Stewart Gardner. This program is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Civic Leader and Art Collector: Sallie Casey Thayer and an Art Museum for KU.