japonisme: cacophany or harmony?

28 December 2006

cacophany or harmony?

since we are so used to seeing it, i would like to remind you that pattern-printed, colorful clothing on women was not the stuff of illustration, nor of, well, clothing.

nor were highly stylized images of nature. here in the 1850s image we have some sketching in of nature, but with an eye towards 'natural,' sort-of.

but in rhead we have an unconscious, or subconscious, or just plain exuberant exploration of color and design unseen in western illustration until the influence of japanese art.

an interesting question might be, what is it in the japanese culture (pictured here by masanobu kitao) that the vibrant fabric was the norm? prints are so often awash with what to our eyes might be considered wildly competing motifs, with ornament and hue brought together in what to us may seem confection; what then, to the japanese?

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Blogger Ed Weekly said...

I love the print by Masanobu Kitao, BTW. I think I understand your question, but I'm even more perplexed as to why the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco would seem to be completely unaware (dis-interested?) on the effect or importance of "Japonisme" on European art. In all of there wonderful Japanese art displayed, there wasn't a single woodblock print! No Hiroshige, No Utamaro, No Hokusai anywhere!

30 December, 2006 19:08  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i'm glad you liked it, ed. they drive me crazy--there's a bunch of them. the wonder of patterns just amazes me.

ok--i tried a search for ukiyo-e and came up with some, and even some for individual artists.... so i'm wondering why the different experience!!

31 December, 2006 17:51  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

but beyond that (and as i did it again i realize it's a limited result) it's an interesting question to think about.

on reading further in the info they post about the collection it says: "the collection contains rare and exceptional objects which are often referenced in journals and textbooks"; these are collections that people had, and donated to them, not what they necessarily went out and chose.

it's not like they don't acknowledge the art form; they have compiled an entire exhibition on yoshitoshi, for example. but with so many other us museums already having extremely rich collections of japanese prints and ceramics, i can see that it makes sense that their collection might focus on other crafts/arts, those which are rarer in general and harder to find around here.

what do you think?

31 December, 2006 18:06  
Blogger Ed Weekly said...

I'll have to check that Yoshito exhibit in May, but I still think the AAM should have some ukiyo-e woodblock prints as part of their permanent Japanese Art exhibit.

01 January, 2007 00:47  
Blogger Florence said...

On topic of Cacophany or Harmony? I would suppose it would be important to remember that these prints where as much fashion plates as anything. The latest styles in kimono could be found in the latest Ukiyo-e. So many delightful choices this season! ;)

I'm so totally jealous of the amazing colections the US has in all sorts of Art Museums. I have to be content with mainly books and the internet. The scent of incense is rare.


01 January, 2007 04:00  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh yeah, florence--thanks for that reminder. it makes me start to wonder, did they do the clothing/fabric designing as well as the print designing? i should go try to research that. i also sometime want to do like a fashion show.... :^)

and wow! i didn't know that this stuff was not available pretty much everywhere! well, again, thank goodness for the internet. that show at the marmottan in paris--they're showing the originals of monet's 250 or so japanese prints. i saw them at his house in giverney, but now i learn that i was looking at copies. the real ones are too fragile, too suseptable to light, to be hung regularly.

ed--yeah--the more i think about it the more i get your point--i mean, i don't think it implies any kind of prejudice (but what do i know?) but still, it would seem like a priority to balance their collection....

06 January, 2007 14:39  

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