Taiwan Government-General Library carried three art journals in Japanese:
- Kokka (Flowers of the nation, from the very first issue, 1889-, including accompanying indexes);
- Nihon bijutsu (Japanese art, vol 17 no 3-6, 1915-1916);
- and, Bijutsu gahō (The magazine of art, from volume 33 1915 onward) (Taiwan Sōtokufu Toshokan 1918, 758).
This selection underscores the educational approach of the library, as both Kokka and Bijutsu gahō were the two major art journals at the time specializing in reproducing artworks.
Kokka is particularly famous for the high quality of its reproductions, both black and white photographs (collotypes) and multi-color woodblock prints. Founded by Okakura Tenshin and Takahashi Kenzō, this prestigious journal also published research on East Asian art and would become one of the pillars of Japanese art history (Satō 2004, 221-24; Satō 2011, 153-55). In November 1930, an observer writing for the Taiwan nichinichi shinpō pointed out that the library had the full run of Kokka and encouraged artists from the tōyōga division at the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition to visit the library and peruse it (Hekiteishujin 1930).
Bijutsu gahō consisted primarily of reproductions, grouped under one of the two categories:
- sankōhin, which the magazine translated into English as “works of old masters or masterpieces” (which I translate throughout this module as “model works”);
- and, shinseihin, “works of living/contemporary artists.”
The editors put all deceased artists into the first category, irrespective of when they had passed. The second category featured often paintings on view at major contemporary art exhibitions in Japan, such as the Japan Art Association exhibit or the Fine Arts Exhibition organized by the Ministry of Education. The bilingual notice inside of the magazine explained its objectives:
The Magazine of Art has for its object the publication through its pages such standard works of old and new art, as it will serve for models of excellence an [sic] examples for reference in the various departments of art, for the benefit of the students and other persons wishing to acquaint themselves with the condition of Art in the Far East (Bijutsu gahō 1909, n. p).
The editors also included reproductions of some premodern artworks from the Asian continent preserved in collections in Japan. Yet, overall, art produced in Japan dominated the magazine.
By the 1920s, art journals began to appear as a motif on a number of still lifes on display at the official salons in Korea and Taiwan.