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Reiko Tomii’s profound and accessible study of 1960s avant-garde art from Japan offers an answer to a perennial problem in the appreciation of Japanese culture.

International observers often rely on the perception that culture from Japan is “exquisite” or “cool” without knowing how or where to place it in an international context. Japan does often present a cliched parade of exotic, weird and plain off-the-wall culture. As a consequence, its contemporary art is too often misunderstood as derivative of international trends, or baffling in its extremity.

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