japonisme: the floating world of paris

25 May 2007

the floating world of paris

you would think this would be obvious, but isn't it neat how when you begin to study something you actually learn new things. i'm reading a book at the moment, japan, france, and east-west aesthetics, by jan walsh hokenson. in it she explores a much broader palatte as to how japonisme was made visible in all of the arts, not just the visual ones, and in thought itself.

this book is one of the reasons i've been introducing glimpses into the writing of the authors whose work she explores as being of that bunch. as i read more, i'll be able to post more substantive things rather than just topical quotes. the tough part is finding great translations (in her book all of the translations for the french are in the back of the book, which makes me a little crazy). so. one step at a time.

but another topic she addresses is the fact that yet another facet of the japanese work was embraced by the westerners: who, and what, was painted. these are not girls you would bring home to mother.

utamaro's courtesans and toulouse- lautrec's prostitutes, while probably not sharing the same status in society, do in fact share the same profession. as do the geisha, the kabuki star, loie fuller, and sarah bernhardt. this is the floating world; this is glitter beyond reality, where every face is painted, and every gown dazzles.

fortunately, this is not an isolated incident of this bit of observation: i found a phenomenal website with much enlightenment on the period, its causes, its crazes, and even with a poem by honor moore about the lautrec painting of the woman in orange.

from the website: Perhaps more than any of his peers, Lautrec’'s brilliant, fluid, economical compositions documenting the dance halls, nightclubs and bordellos of Montmartre best reflect the ukiyo-e influence in both content and technique.

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Blogger Princess Haiku said...

I know that you are visually oriented, Lotusgreen, but this post has me wondering about the influence on music and dance.

I love the blue painting.

I am off on a day of garden tours and hope the fog will clear soon. Have a nice holiday.

26 May, 2007 08:31  
Blogger Imani said...

Ok this is funny. Yesterday while I was zimming through JSTOR I spied an article on Proust and Japonisme so, of course, I downloaded and will send it to you, if you like. (PDF format) I don't know if it's any good, or even decipherable ie not written in obscure academic jargon, but I do plan to look it over today.

26 May, 2007 11:21  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

yes, princess--all of the arts as well as everything else ;^). composers such as debussy and satie simplified what classical music could be at this time, and modern dance grew out of, for example, isadora duncan's having been inspired by the images of japanese women she began seeing.

imani--that would be so terrific!! thank you!

26 May, 2007 17:53  

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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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