Personal stories in Impressions

Rosenfield photo

John Rosenfield

Impressions, the journal of the Japanese Art Society of America, becomes heavier every year. It is a beautiful journal dedicated to Japanese art with a growing attention for modern and contemporary art. This year’s edition is another gem, filled with many personal stories about interesting characters in the field of Japanese art. In particular I enjoyed the articles on scholar John Rosenfield (1924-2013) by Samuel Morse and Timon Screech (pages 167-185).

Still relatively new to the field of publishing, I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Rosenfield in 2007 in Cambridge MA. We were to discuss various production issues with regard to his forthcoming book on the monk Chōgen (1121-1206) and Buddhist sculpture. I had to do my best to keep up with Prof Rosenfield’s fast pace when walking to his office in Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum . In addition to talking about the necessary practical details, we had a stimulating conversation about studying Japanese art. Back in my hotel, I could only think how wonderful it must have been for Rosenfield’s students to have such an enthusiastic, kind and encouraging professor.

JVC1 coverI was always amazed with Prof Rosenfield’s willingness – while he was already in his eighties – to learn new computer skills and nothing was too much for him. Without any problems he followed the instructions of Brill’s language specialist of how to insert the Sanskrit texts in his manuscript. And later during the proofing stage, he purchased new software so that he could insert his corrections to the book design electronically instead of writing them by hand on printed copies of the design.

Our collaboration resulted in the first volume in Brill’s Japanese Visual Culture series. Portraits of Chōgen. The Transformation of Buddhist Art in Early Medieval Japan was published in 2010, four years after our first correspondence about the project. It is a book which I am still very proud of and which brings back many pleasant memories to its magnificent author.

Impressions, The Journal of the  Japanese Art Society of America,  number 36, 2015. General editor Julia Meech.