japonisme: what is japonisme? part I

10 September 2006

what is japonisme? part I

for the last several days i have been scouring the internet for resources and find there's little agreement to anything (not that this should come as a surprise), mainly, the definitions, but also the history behind it, the range of its influence, etc. so today i will do my best to lay out what i have learned japonisme to be, and will return often, i'm sure, to correct, amend, edit and embellish, etc., and with your help perhaps arrive at something definitive.

in 1854 japan's doors were opened to trade by admiral matthew perry and his black ships. what followed was nothing short of life-altering. not only would art and design be changed, but music, theater, dance, religion, and philosophy as well.

there were two elements coming from japan at that time that comprised the strongest influencing factors: calligraphy and buddhism; both underlay everything else, and both had been borrowed from china. (see gaillard chair, above, with lines almost imitating japanese calligraphy, which had developed into something graceful, a tree limb in place of a ruler, poetry in place of prose.)

also coming from china was an ethic that some say was the breeding ground for buddhism itself: ancient chinese nature- worshipping religions. this, along with a developed buddhism as well switched the human/nature/deity paradigm that had developed in the west on its ear. very quickly nature went from what humans controlled to what humans were.



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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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