SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Nicole Valentova

BA Japanese and Korean (SOAS); MA History of Art and Archaeology of East Asia (SOAS)
  • Research


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Nicole Valentova
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Thesis title:
Art as a Tool: Comparative Study of the Centralisation and Manipulation of the Art Scene in Japan in the 1900s and in Korea in the 1920s
Year of Study:
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PhD Research

My research focuses on the concept of the annual official juried government-sponsored exhibition that is said to have been modelled after the Salon de Paris. I take it as a newly developed distinctive and unique platform, and I try to map its history from the establishment of the Ministry of Education Art Exhibition known as Bunten in 1907, through its reorganisation to the Imperial Art Exhibition known as Teiten in 1918, to the transplantation of the concept into the Korean colonial environment in 1922, in the form of the Joseon Fine Arts Exhibition, shortened in Japanese to senten. In order to find out how the socio-historical changes and political machinations were reflected in the exhibited art works, I analyse the exhibition catalogues identifying subtle trends of certain themes and motifs, and while observing their developments I try to link them with the bureaucratic and political realm. Each stage poses slightly different challenges and raises diverse questions; the involvement of the government varied and so did the policies behind the operations and management of the exhibition. The existing scholarship does not look at the official annual competitive exhibition as a topic on its own, instead the focus usually remains on a certain group of artists or genre at a particular stage of the exhibition. My research will bring new elements to the already established narrative and, most importantly, it will offer a comparison of the stages shedding light on the changing strategies and other aspects of the bureaucratic layer, so far academically almost untouched.


Waseda University, Professor Tan'o Yasunori (during the field work only)


Official government-sponsored juried art exhibitions in the Imperial Japan