japonisme: 10/1/06 - 10/8/06

07 October 2006

a tale of three harvests

utamaro 1788
bruce rogers 1898
camille martin 1894

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Yet, O my soul supreme!
Know’st thou the joys
of pensive thought?
Joys of the free and
lonesome heart—
the tender, gloomy heart?
Joy of the solitary walk—
the spirit bowed yet proud—
the suffering and the struggle?
The agonistic throes,
the extasies—
joys of the solemn musings, day or night?

walt whitman
leaves of grass

(genjiro ito,1901;
shotei hiroaki, 1930;
toulouse-lautrec, 1892;
henri boutet 1895)

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06 October 2006

the reality of peacocks

well, i'm sure that any student of history is used to conflicting stories, but this is my first real foray, so i'm surprised, interested, and maybe even amused. this print from a manga is by hishikawa moronobu. it was done in 1683. this suggests to me that in fact peacocks did indeed exist in japan. now there could be a million reasons why i'm wrong: he made these up and just coincidentally re-created a real bird; they were there but died out by the time iida made that kimono; and ad absurdum. more likely, i guess, the person who reported that fact (someone from the kyoto costume institute?) was misinformed. there must be a story but we just may never get it. (oh--i just noticed--this must be from the same series.)


05 October 2006

more beauty from iida takashimaya

Woman's dressing gown in two parts
Japanese, for Western market, about 1900
Retailer: Iida Takashimaya

Kyoto, Japan
Gown (center back length): 141.0 cm (55 1/2 in.); sash (overall) 33.0 x 301.0 cm (13 x 118 1/2 in.)
Silk plain weave (taffeta) embroidered with polychrome silk; silk plain weave lining; cord and tassel trim

Classification: Costumes

Pink silk taffeta dressing gown in kimono style with embroidered naturalistic chrysanthemums and butterflies in polychrome silks. Silk plain weave lining, padded hem and pleat in back of robe. Full sleeves gathered at shoulders and trimmed with braided silk cord and tassles. Matching sash of pink silk taffeta with double-sided embroidery of chrysanthemums in green brown and pink polychrome silk with knotted silk fringe. Gown labeled: S. Iida "Takashimaya" Silks and Embroideries. Kyoto.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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going against the flow

(hokusai; unknown japanese ceremonial fabric cover, 19th century; habert-dys, french ca. 1900)

I have just gotten a book from the library, "japan in the victorian mind: a study of stereotyped images of a nation 1850-1880" by toshio yokoyama, a professor of the history of modern japanese culture from kyoto university.

a counterpoint to my, our, the culture's enthrallment with what we take as japan- ese, i take this perspective as very important. so many things were happening in that brief period of time: over time i hope to detangle them.
for the moment i will just quote one chapter heading:
"in quest of the inner life of the japanese."

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04 October 2006

the nature of nature

in his work, art and art industries in japan (1878), rutherford alcock singles out the love of nature and partiality towards the ever changing state of things to be characteristic of japanese art: nature being neither uniform nor repetitive, learning from it can result in a rich diversity, and this learning process from nature accounts for those characteristics of japanese art which are lacking in european art.

and clearly, with the rebirth of japonisme, arts and crafts, and art nouveau in our own time, the images still hold strength, beauty and appeal.

(genki raian--ca.1830; decorche- mont--ca.1900; ephraim faience--ca.2006)

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the plovers sing

from one side
wind from the hills...
plovers singing
............--issa 1803
(hokusai manga)

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03 October 2006

"naturalism and decoration"

in 1863 critic william rosetti offered advice to western artists regarding their japanese counter- parts. "study their practice," he said, "for such points as the actions of birds, their quaint turns of head or lithe deviations of neck; the decorative and at the same time naturalistic treatment of plumage... we incline to say that the japanese reach higher in point of perceptive knowledge, and instant magic of the realizing hand, than any phase or period of european art..." (illustration by felix lorioux)


the flights of birds

The speaker of this poem, "Summer Birds and Flowers," is someone looking at a scroll by Shikibu Terutada from the sixteenth century.

the coiled scroll
enacts the momentary

sweeping down the midday sky
of small birds
on a draft from the distant

blue ravines
and mountain ridges
into the windy clearing
of summer's
middle distance, so luminous
and near
it's hard to see

elegantly disguised
by graceful hollyhocks
and stalks of amber iris
that steeply
lean into the emptiness
that borders
the tended garden path
Any fear of what imperils

and impends
is tempered—
so that the tidal and jagged line
of the far mountains
seems merely an artful

mapping of the birds'
arc of flight
And such a glimmer of gaiety
as they dip and swoop
with unguarded ease
into the inseparable

my heart stops now
as I think of it

© margaret gibson

(from 'autumn grasses')

(ohara; hoytema; bracquemond; hokusai; unknown; ohara?; ohara)

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02 October 2006

hokusai and riviere

henri riviere's "les trente-six vues de la tour eiffel" is in exhibition at the new otani art museum in tokyo until Oct. 22.

inspired directly by hokusai's 'thirty-six views of mt. fuji" (printed in 1827 and referenced below as well), the series took twenty years for riviere to complete, in 1902. (another of his prints is here)

to see riviere's complete set of the 36 prints, a beautiful little book, check here, where you will find background on the artist as well.

And here is the background and information for the exhibition.

hiroshige also produced a series called "thirty-six views of mt. fuji" in 1858.

found it! i couldn't find a page with hokusai's complete set, but i'll add it later if i find one. anyone else know of one? please let me know--and thanks!

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01 October 2006

jules auguste habert-dys

jules auguste habert-dys's japonisme, for reasons i don't understand, appeals to me in some deeply personal way. it feels quintessential, a superb distilling of french and japanese. i can find very little about him other than that he was just one of many artists who came out with a collection of designs at the turn of the last century, and that he studied with felix bracquemond, and illustrated for one of the many "art and decor" magazines popular at the time.

perhaps it's because his favorite subjects seem to be birds, cats, and fish. i don't know the reason. still, when i look at his work i feel i should cry.

(the two images are 'vol d'oiseaux' by habert-dys on the left, and 'swallows' by ohara kosan on the right)

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