japonisme: 2/11/07 - 2/18/07

17 February 2007


doesn't the internet seem like just one big wondrous museum some days?

today i went to the 'museum of jewelry,' the 'bibliotech d'adornment', the 'history of lacquer university,' and ebay.

if you only go to look, all the commerce in the world becomes a gift.

(galle, utamaro, nishide, aucoc, utamaro, partridge, scheid, hansen, & unknown)

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15 February 2007

speaking of bookbinding....

Victor Émile Prouvé (1858-1943)

art nouveau, impressionism, jugensdstil... while the work from this time might continue to thrill, it does not shock. but it's informative to remember that it once did. victor prouvé was an artist of many talents. friends with fellow nancy resident gallé, prouvé painted the definitive painting of him.

drawing, dress design, printmaking and architecture were all among his talents.

but today we will look mainly at some of his efforts at bookbinding design. i don't know enough about bookbinding to understand the various elements, but perhaps one of our experts could enlighten me. prouvé is given credit for these bindings, but always someone else is also credited. i'm not clear on this division of labor.

for example, this binding of salammbo by flaubert is credited to prouvé, but my little section out of an old book, the flowering of art nouveau, also says that it was executed by rené wiener. i'll assume that that is like watanabe publishing yoshida's prints?

"it makes full use of the different ways of treating leather: inlay, engraving, gilding, and glazing. wiener adroitly uses the design of the veil of tanit to connect the boards with the spine. this salammbo is one of the earliest examples of a binding treated as a picture. instead of merely illustrating a theme from the story, the binding tries to present the essential spirit of flaubert's novel. orthodox craftsmen were critical of these pictorial bindings , which they considered to be a betrayal of the art of the book."

prouvé also designed bookbinding on two volumes of louis gonse's publication japanese art. for this project, prouvé worked with camille martin, whose bookbinding work we have seen before in a drawing for this cover for which its inspiration is clear when seen in a comparison with a particular print by utamaro.

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again, mr mucha, i give you japan

showing in various spots around japan through september 2007


14 February 2007

some, however, do it beautifully

Maurice Denis
October Night
[panel for the decoration of a girl's room]

Painted in 1891, October Night dates from a key period in Denis' career when he began to adopt a more synthetic approach. He belonged to the young Nabis group who, as Jean Verkade testified, were concerned primarily with decorative painting: "a war cry circulated from studio to studio: no more easel paintings […] only decorations remain".

In 1892, this piece was exhibited at the 8th Salon des Indépendants, together with three other paintings – September Night, April and July – to make up a series entitled Poetic Subjects (four panels for the decoration of a girl's room). Although the series did not include Winter, it was often interpreted as a Seasons cycle, a theme already taken up by Poussin, Boucher, Cézanne and others, and which Vuillard would go on to tackle in 1892. The series could also be considered as the symbolic representation of four moments in a woman's life, October Night being that of engagement, the young woman in pink probably representing the Denis' betrothed, Marthe Meurier, accompanied by her sister, Eva. This decidedly symbolist scene could, then, be a token for the young artist's fiancée through which he expressed his feelings for her.

The palette of pearly and rich bronze tones, treated in gradations, creates a delicate colour field which contributes to the overall feeling of serenity. With his subtle play on the arabesques of the female silhouettes and the Japanese-inspired network of veins on the bark of the chestnut trees, Maurice Denis shows himself here to be one of the originators of Art Nouveau.*

as do they


happy valentine's day

how i wish that all museums showed all of their collections and exhibitions big enough to see.

the NORDENFJELDSKE KUNSTINDUSTRIMUSEUM, among others, does not. but ahhhhhhhhh what beauty they do.

(update: 1.30.2010 --
the museum itself seems to disappeared from the web!
i'll keep trying.
meanwhile, i've found some of the images that were here.)

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13 February 2007

why is this night different....


The wind that waves the boughs on every tree
Sends down a drifting cloud of scented snow.

O Yone San, you glide and turn and dance,—
You sway my thought, and toss it to and fro.

Each star-white blossom, freed by passing air,
Floats to the place its Fate has set apart.

O Yone San, your little fluttering feet
Are flower petals, falling on my heart!

Aldis Dunbar

(Aldis Dunbar, b. 1870, was author of collections of stories published in London in 1904, Chicago in 1925, and Boston in 1928. ‘Japaneseque’ appeared in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine 66 in 1900.)1

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12 February 2007

if music be the food of love, fiddle on wednesday

The flowers that bloom in the spring,
Tra la,
Breathe promise of merry sunshine —
As we merrily dance and we sing,
Tra la,
We welcome the hope that they bring,
Tra la,
Of a summer of roses and wine,
Of a summer of roses and wine.
And that's what we mean when we say that a thing
Is welcome as flowers that bloom in the spring.
Tra la la la la,
Tra la la la la,
The flowers that bloom in the spring.

Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Nanki-Poo & Pooh-Bah:
Tra la la la la,
Tra la la la la,
Tra la la la la la!

The flowers that bloom in the spring,
Tra la,
Have nothing to do with the case.
I've got to take under my wing,
Tra la,
A most unattractive old thing,

Tra la,
With a caricature of a face,
With a caricature of a face.
And that's what I mean when I say, or I sing,
"Oh, bother the flowers that bloom in the spring."
Tra la la la la,
Tra la la la la,
"Oh, bother the flowers of spring."

Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Nanki-Poo & Pooh-Bah
Tra la la la la,
Tra la la la la,
Tra la la la la

(Shuntei Miyagawa, Kunichika Toyohara, Nobukazu Watanabe, Kunitsuna Utagawa, Kunichika Toyohara. princess haiku asked if these prints were available; today's selections are from, to the right, 'japanese prints.' )

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11 February 2007

imitated from the japanese ― w b yeats

W. B. Yeats

Imitated from the Japanese (1938)

A most astonishing thing
Seventy years have I lived;

(Hurrah for the flowers of Spring
For Spring is here again.)

Seventy years have I lived
No ragged beggar man,
Seventy years have I lived,
Seventy years man and boy,
And never have I danced for joy.

Imitated from the Japanese. The speaker celebrates the coming of spring and finds It ‘astonishing’ that he has lived through seventy years without ‘danc[ing] for joy’. Yeats included an earlier version of the poem in a letter to Dorothy Wellesley in December 1936. He wrote there that he had ‘made’ the poem ‘out of a prose translation of a Japanese Hokku in praise of Spring’, but the work is nothing like ‘hokku’, prose translation or otherwise, and does not remind of anything in Japanese tradition.

Finneran in The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats, rev. ed. (New York: Collier, 1989) finds an ‘apparent source’ in Miyamori’s Anthology of Haiku, most likely, he suggests, ‘My Longing After Departed Spring’, by Emori Gekkyo, but the similarity is not striking. Yeats’s poem is nine lines about joy occasioned by the arrival of spring, Gekkyo’s two lines about longing occasioned by its departure. The ‘prose translation of a . . . Hokku’ from which Yeats worked, then, has yet to be identified.1 [this site, the margins, is so incredible; i find myself returning again and again.]

(barbier, gekko, zumbusch: they all dance for spring)

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