japonisme: permission

28 July 2007


i have been thinking about something for a while now; i'll share it with you, but also, i'm curious to hear any thoughts you might have.

as i've mentioned, one of the things that exposure to japanese work afforded western artists was the 'permission' to paint subjects not considered right for art before this.

we've already seen some of the lovely and profound effects utamaro's prints of mothers and infants had on mary cassatt and many others.

two other professions now open for interpretation were theater people and courtesans. one only need think of toulouse-lautrec to remember both.

but another job pictured with interesting frequency are the washerwomen of the world, the laundresses, les laveuses.

i begin to ask myself about all of this.

is it a matter of class, primarily, the distance of the lower class makes them safer to interpret?

not that many of the painters were of many higher of a class, but they had a certain status, particularly among themselves.

perhaps it's a matter of decorative appeal. there is something quite lovely of a white-bonnetted or apronned woman hanging the white wash on the hillside.

more scenic surely than a woman at a typewriter.

not to say that the upper-class was not painted, but what percentage of that was portraiture, bought and paid for?

so i love to look at these too, as well as the dancers and actresses and whores.

but is it, i ask myself, because i too easily see women in subservient positions; it's natural, known.

after all, isn't this what we're best at?

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Blogger harlequinpan said...

i really love these!!they are action-packed and vivid!!

i have come to think of your interesting subject,but because of my bad English ,i am afraid that it's difficult to describe my thoughts.

To me personally, i love Toulouse-Lautrec's works far exceeds Pierre-Auguste Renoir's. i try to find out what is the reason for that? Toulouse-Lautrec described in the works of most of the middle and lower social class of life, while Pierre-Auguste Renoir, mostly glamorous description of the upper class of society.

As a middle class people, upper class or lower social life is always highly attractive for them, unfortunately,the upper social patterns are always under protection,glorify and inviolability,so the styles are dull and boring. but the lower-class society of varied life always easy to meet people's pleasure of peeping others privacy.

31 July, 2007 08:27  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh my hp, what a wonderful response. that i s just fascinating.

i wonder if i can take it a step further... perhaps the art viewing/buying public actually looks more like the renoir people, but wish they could be a bit more like the lautrec people: freedom from "lives of quiet desparation"

31 July, 2007 10:30  

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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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