japonisme: it's rarely a narrative

15 October 2006

it's rarely a narrative

i realize that i've been somehow trying to make this into a narrative (much as i tend to do with my own life), and, like my life, it just isn't. so this blog now becomes randomized. there's just so much, so much beauty, so much irony, so much of dreadful interest, that to try to make it orderly is to create a deceit. it's complex and complicated and redundant and contradictory, and so it is. when, if, connections appear i'll do my best to notice. feel free, if you notice, to let us know.

in 'international arts and crafts,' by livingstone and parry, a 1898 review from 'house beautiful' is quoted as saying, "the japanese have taught us much, but nothing more clearly perhaps than that beauty does not depend upon intricacy or elaborateness of design and ornamentation."

the article, however, was comparing grueby pottery, seeing it as 'japanesque,' and grueby pottery is simple, as was much pottery coming from japan. it still is.

but not all of it was, as you can see.

nor were many of the prints any more simple than what was happening in the west, as the japanese print and the american magazine cover from the same time period illustrate.

not to mention that that which was called 'japonesque' was often far from simple.

mystification, again. the west needed something simple--freedom from the clutter of the victorian era, distance from the clamor of the industrial age--and japan was just different enough, just unknown enough, to use to fill that bill.

Emile Galle
"Alla Japonica", 1900

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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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