japonisme: 2/25/07 - 3/4/07

03 March 2007

times and tides

Van Gogh might have been inspired not only to contrast the vivid blue of the water and the yellow of the bridge, but also to identify the Japanese climate with the Midi de France, by the following passage on Monet that Théodore Duret published in his Critique d’Avant garde:

It was not until the Japanese albums came into our hands that painters could juxta-
pose on the canvas a roof of audacious red, a yellow road, and the blue of water.

Before the model was provided by the Japan- ese, it was impossible... Every time I
contemplate the Japanese albums, I say to myself, yes, it was just in that way that
nature appeared to my eye, in a luminous and transparent atmosphere. . . without attenuation or gradation, [just as] in the Midi of the France, where every color appears glaring and intense in summer.1

so i am left wondering: had the different styles developed from different technologies or different perceptions?, different philosophies, different values, or some reason i'll never understand?

(hokusai, bilibin, courbet, kunisada)

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02 March 2007

les fleurs de mal

'contemporary criticism of [charles] meunier was mixed.

although most observers found him talented, innovative, and instinctive, he offended contemporary bibliophiles by producing vast numbers of covers containing emblematic and pictorial themes, often thought to be gaudy and crudely executed commercial ventures pandering to the tastes of the period's bourgeoisie.

his output was prodigious and he moved with ease between styles and periods, a fact which further offended purists who felt that his talent lay primarily in the creation of half-bindings with decorative spines.'

-- art nouveau and art deco bookbinding, duncan & de bartha

this story sounds sadly familiar....

also, it should be noted, i was unable to find anywhere what if any relationship existed between charles meunier and henri meunier.

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01 March 2007

the crane wife

a japanese fairy-tale with a thousand variations goes like this:

a lonesome farmer was walking through the forest one dark and snowy night when he heard a rustling just off his path. there he found a wounded crane.

he took the crane home and nursed it back to health. by spring the crane was well enough to set free. it made the man feel sadness and joy at the same time, watching the crane fly.

shortly before the summer season began, a young woman came to the farmer's village, and soon the two were in love and became married.

the next two years brought a terrible drought, and the farmer was distraught for his wife and himself. his wife then told him of her knowledge of weaving.

she wove such lustrous fabrics that they never came back home once they'd been to market; everyone wanted them. the farmer was delighted. but there was one catch. his wife told him he must never never view her weaving. and he promised.

time stretched on and for three years the farmer tended to his farming, loved his wife, and became a happy man. he wasn't one to question. but other farmers in the town questioned him about his wife, her weaving. how did she make these fabrics? their wives wanted to know! eventually the farmer began to wonder as well.

one afternoon he returned home from the fields earlier than expected, tiptoed into the house, and quietly lifted the curtain behind which his wife's loom was to be found. and there he saw a beautiful white crane, and beside her a basket of feathers for the weaving.

the next day, the man was alone again; he knew the secrets, and they were worth nothing to him at all.

(paul bruno; ludwig hohlwein; fumeroy; ohara koson.)

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28 February 2007

at green tea

at least that's what the polish/ english translator said przy zielonej herbacie translated as. whatever it means, and despite the fact that i can understand none of it, i often find something delightful there.

clearly sharing issues with this blog, i find artists, perspectives, new to me, no matter how well- known they are in poland. this artist is featured on stamps, money, street names, and schools, and yet is new to me. you too? thanks again, internet. and thanks, green tea.

the woman to the left is Irena Solska; and both of these are by Stanisław Wyspiański.


27 February 2007


i discovered a museum online that is almost as good as visiting in person.

the collection is vast, and viewable online.

it's also idiosyncratic, quite varied. you could never see it all in one day....

and it puts some things into perspective. take this glass bowl from the 1st century a.d.

doesn't it make the lawsuits that flew between lafarge and tiffany over who invented iridescent glass seem foolish?

(sakai hoitsu; ito jakuchu; unknown marabu maker, 16th century carafe maker & iridescent bowl.)

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25 February 2007

a little more

this extraordinary mariano fortuny coat from the kyoto costume institute says the pattern is taken from a traditional japanese pattern.

i could not, however, find a larger image of this coat so instead i found a pattern i thought looked like it might be the same and recolored it. it may instead be lotus leaves but i just can't tell.

found this madeleine vionnet dress that i don't have anything to compare it with other than an ultimate standard of beauty.

oops--just found this quote "Vionnet really understood the kimono and took the geometric idea to construct her clothes — and that brought such freedom into European clothes in the 1920s," said Issey Miyake.

it just occurred to me that when i see kimono, i don't see fashion designers named.

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fashioning consensus

japanese design effected western fashion in many different ways.

sometimes, kimono were imported, taken apart, and turned into western-style dresses

sometimes fabric design was (is) influenced by lacquerware.

sometimes by color and theme.

(much wonderful fashion is collected, lent, and displayed, by the kyoto costume institute. another resource is new york's met, where a poirot exhibit--see black coat--will be later this year. cocktail dress by dior. chikanabu toyohara & toyokuni utagawa did the prints.)

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