For a lively romp through the modern art of Japan and China, check out art historian William Norman Bryson’s current UC San Diego course 20th Century Art of China and Japan (feed). This course is likely to disappear within a week or so at the end of winter quarter, so download it while you can.
Bryson delivers a delightful combination of history, art world anecdotes and art criticism in this course on the art of 19th and 20th century Japan and China. The syllabus is here. You can view the lecture slides here.
For example, in lecture 4 (January 14) he talks about Japan’s 19th century encounter with Commodore Matthew Perry and the insistent Americans who forced their way into a trading relationship. He then illustrates the Japanese reaction with a series of woodblock prints which depict Americans as disgusting barbarians.
Bryson spices his lectures with readings from contemporary diaries so we can view events as the participants saw them.
Unfortunately, I do find myself mentally arguing with him from time to time when he offers explanations heavily flavored with gender-studies theories. But even if gender studies ideas are not to your taste, there’s lots more here to enjoy.
Technical note for Firefox users: if you want to save the lecture slides for later viewing, and easy method is to use the free Firefox add-on ScrapBook.