Jeff Hammond - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Jeff Hammond

Search for:

Jeff Hammond

PhD student

Contact details

The appropriation of cubist, futurist and related ideas and techniques by the Japanese artists Yorozu Tetsugoro and Kambara Tai in Taisho-era Japan (1912-26)

Supervised by Gavin Parkinson

In the early twentieth century, numerous Japanese artists searching for means of artistic expression relevant to their own experiences of the modern world were drawn to emerging art movements from Europe. This thesis explores the engagements of the artists Yorozu Tetsugoro and Kambara Tai with cubist and futurist ideas and techniques, proposing a reading of these engagements as acts of ‘appropriation’. This shift in viewpoint, from more common notions of ‘influence’, restores a sense of agency to the artists in question and asks the viewer to consider the creative use to which they put the forms and ideas they adopted.

The keywords ‘dynamism’ and ‘vitality’ will be used as a way to link the two artists with each other and with the cubist and futurist ideas and techniques to which they gravitated. The thesis will underline how these concepts not only found expression in the two artists’ contradistinctive images but also arose from divergent, but not unconnected, concerns. It will demonstrate how Kambara’s interests in such keywords were connected to the phenomenon known as ‘Taisho Vitalism’ — a confluence of the concept of élan vital championed by the French philosopher Henri Bergson (an idea simultaneously being explored by many cubist and futurist artists in Europe) with various aspects of Japanese spiritual, philosophical and social thought. Meanwhile Yorozu’s interest in dynamism will be shown to have mainly been connected with his studies of nanga, a form of Chinese landscape painting.

Fully exploring these overlapping and interconnecting strands of thought, the thesis will show that the relationship between the artists in question and aspects of European modernism was far richer than established notions of mere ‘influence’ suggest. The thesis will demonstrate that Japanese artists in the early twentieth century could be simultaneously attracted to the new possibilities offered by these neoteric modern art movements and inspired by their affinities and synchronicities with aspects of their own cultural traditions, taking advantage of these complexities to create their own original works of modern art.


  • 2013-current: PhD candidate, supervised by Dr Gavin Parkinson
  • 2009-2011: MA, University of Exeter, Film Studies, thesis title: ‘Ozu Yasujiro’s ellipses, gaps and empty spaces,’ Supervisor: Song Hwee Lim (Distinction)
  • 1987-1991: BA (Hons), University of Kent, Visual and Performed Art

Research interests

  • Plural/alternative modernisms (with a focus on Japan)
  • Artistic practice and national identity
  • Constructions of space in Japanese cinema

Conference papers and lectures

  • ‘Ise Shrine and Cyclical Time’, given at ‘Art Out Of Time’ Symposium, University of Oxford, June 26-27, 2014
  • ‘Yasujiro Ozu’s Empty Spaces’, given at Asian Cinema Studies Society Conference, University of Hong Kong, 19 March 2012


  • Review of book: Noriko Aso, Public Properties. Museums in Imperial Japan, on-line: New Asia BooksMasaki Kobayashi’ and ‘Interview with Susumu Hani’ in Dictionary of World Cinema: Japan 3, John Berra, (ed.), Bristol: Intellect Books, 2015
  • Masaki Kobayashi’ and ‘Interview with Susumu Hani’ in Dictionary of World Cinema: Japan 3, John Berra, (ed.), Bristol: Intellect Books, 2015
  • ‘A Sensitivity to Things: mono no aware in Late Spring and Equinox Flower’ in Ozu International: Essays on the Global Influences of a Japanese Auteur, Wayne Stein and Marc DiPaolo, (eds.), New York: Bloomsbury, 2015
  • ‘The Collapse of Memory: Tracing Reflexivity in the Work of Daido Moriyama,’ Rosie Miller, Jonathan Carson and Theresa Wilkie, (eds.), The Reflexive Photographer, Edinburgh and Boston: MuseumsEtc, 2013
  • ‘Chinese Landscape Painting: Formulating a History of Art,’ Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Fifth series, vol. 4, 2012

Works in preparation

  • ‘Negotiating Death at the Great Kanto Earthquake Memorial Museum’ in Museums and Photography: Displaying Death, Elena Stylianou and Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert, (eds.), (Routledge, planned publication date. late 2016)
  • ‘Cubism in Japan’ and ‘Yōga’ (Western-style painting in Japan) in Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism (on-line in 2016)
  • Review of book: Emily J. Levine, ‘Dreamland of Humanists. Warburg, Cassirer, Panofsky, and the Hamburg School.’ Notes on Early Modern Art
  • Review of book: S. Houppermans, P. Liebregts, J. Baetens, O. Boele (eds.), Modernism Today, on-line: European Society for the Study of English

Share This

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Close