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Kunsthistorisches Institut



Hag of Adachi Moor

International Symposium Art of the Japanese Copy (September 12 and 19, 2023)

Keynote speech by Her Imperial Highness Princess Akiko of Mikasa
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Place: University of Zurich, Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zürich  Aula Magna KOL-G-201
Flyer (PDF, 602 KB)

Presentations by leading and emerging scholars
Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Place: University of Zurich, Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich RAA-G-01 
Symposium program  (PDF, 425 KB)
More information about the symposium 


Prof. Dr. Hans B. Thomsen's Farewell Lecture

Why Bother with Museums: Teaching East Asian Art History in Switzerland  

Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2023, 18:15–19:15  
Place: University of Zurich, Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zürich  Aula Magna KOL-G-201
Flyer (PDF, 211 KB) 

Professor Thomsen is retiring after having taught for over sixteen years as the professor in charge of teaching East Asian art history at the University of Zurich. During this time, surveys of European museums and collections have been an integral part of research and the teaching of a large number of students. The talk will cast a look back at the history of the KGOA during this time and argue for the importance of developing close connections between academia and the museum world.  


Online International Symposium

Tracing the Reception of Japanese Art in the West: As Seen through Case Studies in Central Europe 

Organized by International Joint Digital Archiving Center for Japanese Art and Culture (ARC-iJAC), Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Saturday, 28th January 2023, 8:00–10:00 CET (16:00–18:00 JST)

Keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Hans B. Thomsen: Academia and Museums: The Importance of Collaborative Projects

Other presentations:
Dr. Klaus J. Friese (Lecturer, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich): Siebold's Collection in Munich: A New Type of Museum?
Sabine Sophia Bradel (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Zurich)
Japanese Woodblock Prints in a Private Collection in Winterthur, Switzerland
Matilde E. Tettamanti (MA, University of Zurich)
A First Examination of the Japanese Art Collection of Monte Verità in Ascona, Switzerland

This symposium is held online via Zoom and pre-registration is required. 




Public Lecture:
Alpine Globalization – Japan and Switzerland 
Prof. Claude Hauser, Université de Fribourg 

Wednesday, 12th October 2022, 18:00-19:00
Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich, Room RAA-G-15


Japan is an island country, yet it is largely defined by its special relationship with the mountains, which have become an essential part of its mental landscape. This Asian country has an alpine imagination that is both endogenously constituted by the lived space of the Japanese Alps and nourished by the external projection of the Swiss alpine model. From the first ascent of the Mittelegi route of the Eiger in 1921 by the Japanese mountaineer Yuko Maki, accompanied by his Bernese guide Samuel Brawand, to the opening of a tourist office specially dedicated to Japanese visitors in Grindelwald during the 1980s, the symbolic investment of the alpine narrative and its economic and commercial repercussions can be approached by analyzing a few important stages of the cultural, touristic, and economic exchanges that mobilized the representations of the mountain between Japan and Switzerland in the 20th century. This phenomenon of reciprocal exchanges, symbolic reinterpretations, or progressive decantations of Swiss Alpine stereotypes between Japan and Switzerland (the North Face of the Eiger, the Matterhorn, the figure of Heidi, the Swiss chalet...) will be approached through several accounts and images of the Swiss Alps evoked in particular in the magazine of the Japanese Alpine Club Sangaku and other archival documents.

Claude Hauser is a Professor Ordinarius at the Université de Fribourg where, among other subjects, he teaches cultural history, international cultural relations, history of intellectuals, and history of national minorities. His publications include Jura: les sept clichés capitaux. Essai d’histoire Culturelle (Neuchâtel: Editions Alphil, 2012) and La Chine en partage. Ding Zuochao – Auguste Viatte. Une amitié intellectuelle au XXe siècle (Neuchâtel: Editions Alphil, 2018). He is the founder and co-director of the Centre suisse d'études sur le Québec et la Francophonie and is teaching at the Faculty of History at UniDistance, Swiss Distance Learning Institute.

Flyer (PDF, 189 KB)

This lecture will be held in English and is open to the public (no registration is necessary).
For questions, please contact the Section for East Asian Art History:

The event is organized and supported by the Swiss-Japanese Society.

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Gagaku Lecture and Presentation
Thursday, 22nd September 2022, 18:00-19:30
ETH Zürich Main Building, Rämistrasse 101
Hörsaal HG E7
(Free of charge - no reservation necessary)

Gagaku has a long history of over a thousand years and is one of the world’s oldest forms of music and dance. This Japanese performing art form became standardized during the tenth century and was based on the ancient music of various Asian cultures, for example, those of Vietnam, Korea, China, and Central Asia. It was performed at the Japanese imperial court, in aristocratic settings, and at large shrines and temples, and has been handed down to the present as a valuable music cultural property that has retained its ancient forms. 

Gagaku was inscribed on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009 and has been the subject of academic research over the last decades. As gagaku performances are mostly limited to imperial palaces and large religious institutions, regular Japanese people rarely have the chance to see and hear gagaku in person. Performances outside of Japan are also rare; this is the first time in fifty years that a gagaku troupe will visit Switzerland. Please be sure to take this rare opportunity to see the Kitanodaui Gagaku Ensemble members in person and hear their music, enjoy their dance and costumes, as they explain key aspects of the gagaku theater. They have graciously agreed to take part in this lecture presentation for members of the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich, the co-hosts of this event.

For those interested, there is a regular performance of the Gagaku theater at the Musikschule Konservatorium Zurich on the next day (September 23, 19:30). Tickets can be purchased at the Swiss-Japanese Society   

Flyer (PDF, 383 KB)



ETH Exhibition 2022 Image

Ausstellung und Publikation
Linien aus Ostasien: Japanische und chinesische Kunst auf Papier

17.08.2022 – 13.11.2022

Weitere Informationen


 OAKG banner

10. Forum Ostasiatische Kunstgeschichte
17th – 18th June, 2022 

See full details here

  • Keynote Lecture Friday, 17th June 2022, 17:45–18:45

“Aufzeichnungen von Reisen: Medium, Format und Prozess in der Malerei von Huang Binhong”, Prof. Dr. Juliane Noth (Freie Universität Berlin)  

On-site: UZH Main building, Room KOL-H-317
Online (Zoom): Join 

  • Keynote Lecture Saturday, 18th June 2022, 17:45–18:45

"Zhang Taijie and James Cahill: Forgery and Counterforgery in Chinese Art", Prof. Dr. J. P. Park (University of Oxford)

On-site: UZH Main building, Room KOL-H-317
Online (Zoom):Join


Sieben Jahre mit dem Japaner

Christine Rinderknecht 

Mittwoch, 11. Mai 2022, 18.30–19.30
Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zürich, Raum KOL-E-13 


In dem Buch erzählt die Autorin die Geschichte ihres Grossonkels Wilhelm Kuprecht, der von 1902-1909 als Kupferstecher und Techniker für neue Drucktechniken von 1902-1909 in Kyoto gearbeitet und gelebt hat. In jenen Jahren hat er eine grosse Sammlung hauptsächlich zeitgenössischer japanischer Kunst zusammengestellt. Die Autorin erzählt von der Entdeckung dieser Sammlung, von ihren Recherchen und entwickelt in ihrem Buch eine vielstimmige Geschichte, die unterschiedliche Deutungen und Möglichkeiten dieser Biographie zulässt.   Bei ihrer Präsentation wird sie eine Einführung ins Buch geben, ausgewählte Stellen daraus lesen und ausgehend von einem Vers von Antonio Machado, den sie an den Anfang ihres Texts gesetzt hat über das Thema Reisen sprechen, Wilhelms Reisen, ihre Recherchereisen, die inneren Reisen, die Reisen am Schreibtisch mit ihrem Material.   Zwischen den einzelnen Teilen wird sie zwei Video-Ausschnitte präsentieren, die Stücke aus der Sammlung zeigen und ihre Recherchen in Kyoto.      

Christine Rinderknecht ist Autorin/Co-Leiterin von Gubcompany, Theater und Performances für Kinder und Jugendliche. Sie hat Germanistik, Romanistik und Literaturkritik studiert in Zürich, Paris, Berlin. Sie schreibt Theaterstücke, Romane, Erzählungen. U.a. 2002 «ein Löffel in der Luft», Roman, Pendo Verlag, Zürich. 2005 «Lilli», Roman, Pendo Verlag Zürich. «Livia_13», Theaterstück, frei nach dem Film Hip hip hurra von Teresa Fabik, Theaterstückverlag München, Übertragung ins Russische, «Stressfaktor_15», Übertragung ins Rumänische und Ungarische. 2021, «Sieben Jahre mit dem Japaner», Verlag Die Brotsuppe. Die Arbeit an diesem Werk wurde mit einem Werkbeitrag des Kuratoriums Aargau gefördert.           

Flyer (PDF, 17 MB)

Der Vortrag wird auf Deutsch gehalten.  Für Fragen kontaktieren Sie bitte die Abteilung Kunstgeschichte.

Dieser Anlass wird von der Schweizerisch-Japanischen Gesellschaft unterstützt. 

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Combining (historical) Anthropology and Art History: Researching Japanese War Motif Textiles
Dr. Klaus J. Friese 
Friday, 6th May, 2022, 12:15–13:45

Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zürich, Room KO2-F-150

Omiyamairi お宮参りkimono for small boy, ca. 1935,  
yūzen dyed silk, Museum Fünf Kontinente, Munich  

Japanese kimono are associated with timeless elegance and beauty. However, in what appears to contradict this popular understanding of Japanese-style cut textiles, from 1894 to ca. 1942 a large number of Japanese textiles were decorated with explicit images of modern wars, e.g. violent attacks on the enemy, tanks, fighter planes and battleships.  Although these Japanese war motif textiles are frequently called "Propaganda Kimonos", this term does not reflect the complex and entangled meanings which designers, producers and owners associated with these textiles. An interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approach including Actor-Network-Theory (ANT), New Materialism and Social Aesthetics allows to gain a better understanding of the agency of clothing within the everyday life of the Japanese civilian population during war times. The case studies in this presentation provide insights into the multi-faceted and sometimes even contradictory meanings associated with the war motif textiles.  

Klaus J. Friese is a lecturer (Lehrbeauftragter) at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology of Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany. For his thesis “Aesthetics of War: Japanese War Motif Kimonos”, he received a double doctorate in East Asian Art History from University of Zurich and in Cultural Anthropology from Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich. His areas of research and interest are museum anthropology and material culture studies.                   

Flyer (PDF, 1 MB)

The lecture will be held in English and is open to the public (no registration is necessary). For questions, please contact the Section for East Asian Art:



A Culture of Smoking: Artistic and Cultural-Historical Significance of the Japanese Smoking Tradition   
Günther Heckmann and Dr. Achim G. Weihrauch of IFICAH

Tuesday, 1st March 2022, 16:30–17:30
Rämistrasse 71, 8001 Zürich, Room KOL-G-217

Covid-19 related precautions: In order to ensure everyone’s safety, we recommend all attendees to wear masks for the duration of the event.
                       Pipe case, ojime, and tobacco pouch.  Textiles, leather, lacquer, and metalwork.  19th century, Japan. IFICAH Collection

Tobacco was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the late sixteenth century and quickly became a mainstream enjoyment of the Japanese public. During the Edo period (1615-1867), it became common for men and women to enjoy smoking in public and private spaces, and artists competed with each other in making the most attractive pipes, pipe cases, tobacco pouches, and related paraphernalia using luxurious and rare materials and complex techniques.  Examination of these objects reveals the innovative powers of the artists and show intermedial, even intercultural, aspects of these fascinating and innovative artforms, that included metalware, textiles, leather, bamboo, precious stones, and a wide range of materials.  The objects also provide an excellent way to engage with and understand Japan’s early modern material culture.    

IFICAH is represented by:    

Günther Heckmann is a restorer and conservator of Japanese lacquer objects. He is a publicly appointed and sworn expert for Japanese lacquer works. He serves as chairman of the IFICAH Foundation and Director of the Museum of Asian Culture affiliated to the Foundation.    

Dr. Achim G. Weihrauch studied ethnology and prehistory at the University of Basel. He finished his doctorate in 2002 with a research focus on East and Southeast Asia. He worked as a scientific assistant in the Departments of Southeast Asia and Oceania at the Museum der Kulturen Basel from 1994 to 2003. From 2003 to 2014, he was employed for engineering and patent processing. Since 2014, he serves as a scientific advisor and author for the IFICAH Foundation. He is also a freelance bladesmith and restorer since 1995 until today. He is a publicly appointed and sworn expert for edged weapons.  

Flyer (PDF, 268 KB)

The lecture will be held in English and German and is open to the public (no registration is necessary). For questions, please contact the Section for East Asian Art:



Some Encounters, or the Footsteps of a Collector 
Philippe A. F. Neeser

Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 18:00–19:00
Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich, Room RAA-G-01

Covid-19 related requirements: Please note that 2G conditions apply to this event. Access to the lecture is only permitted to persons with a certificate that confirms full recovery or vaccination. In addition, all attendees are obliged to wear masks at all times.

Neeser Philippe image

One of the most cherished sentences in Japanese is surely ichigo ichi’e: each encounter is unique: you seize the opportunity or let it go. These encounters not only happen between human beings, they may also happen with objects. The collector knows that sometimes he or she chooses the object, and that sometimes the object chooses the collector. 

In my decades of collecting, I have tried to keep an open eye at all times and in any circumstances, nevertheless, I still have regrets. Nostalgia is probably a part of any collector’s life. In this presentation, Philippe Neeser looks forward to sharing his many experiences with you.

Philippe A. F. Neeser is in many ways the Swiss person of his generation with the most profound cultural connections to Japan. Having lived in Japan for over thirty years, he holds deep connections to the Imperial House and to the world of the tea ceremony. A long-time practitioner of the tea ceremony, he has been given a tea master name Sōsui by the grand master of the Urasenke and was the first westerner allowed to give tea in front of the Daibutsu of the Tōdaiji Temple in Nara. In November 2008 he received the Order of the Rising Sun. He is also a great collector of Japanese art and has recently donated his collection of 400 tea-ceremony-related objects to the Fondation Baur; he is presently writing a catalogue of these objects.

Flyer (PDF, 472 KB)

The lecture will be held in English and is open to the public (no registration is necessary). For questions, please contact the Section for East Asian Art:

This event is generously supported by the Swiss-Japanese Society.

SJG logo

Online International Symposium

Ariana Museum

Online International Symposium
Japanese Ceramics That Arrived in Switzerland: Discovery of the Musée Ariana Collection
6th January 2022

See full details here 

50 Jahre Kunstgeschichte Ostasiens

Weiterführende Informationen

Hauser Image

Public Lecture

Alpine Globalization – Japan and Switzerland 
Prof. Claude Hauser, Université de Fribourg
12th October 2022, 18:00-19:00

Gagaku Image


Gagaku Lecture and Presentation
22nd September 2022, 18:00-19:30
ETH Zürich Main Building
Hörsaal HG E7 
(Free of charge - no reservation necessary)



Linien aus Ostasien: Japanische und chinesische Kunst auf Papier 
Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich, 17.08.2022 – 13.11.2022

Breath of Japan image


The Breath of Japan: Written and Painted Poetry (Hirmer, 2022)

Herausgegeben von Heinz Kroel und Hans Bjarne Thomsen 


More information on the website of the publisher

China and the West image


China and the West: Reconsidering Chinese Reverse Glass Painting (De Gruyter, 2022)
Herausgegeben von Elisa Ambrosio, Francine Giese, Alina Martimyanova und Hans Bjarne Thomsen


More information on the website of the publisher