japonisme: 3/18/07 - 3/25/07

24 March 2007

mirroring the living

For Anne Gregory

'Never shall a young man,
Thrown into despair
By those great honey-coloured
Ramparts at your ear,
Love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.'

'But I can get a hair-dye
And set such colour there,
Brown, or black, or carrot,
That young men in despair
May love me for myself alone
And not my yellow hair.'

'I heard an old religious man
But yesternight declare
That he had found a text to prove
That only God, my dear,
Could love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.'

- WB Yeats

... or red, or black.... or white. i guess today's question, if there is one, might be are these stereotypes as well? was this one moment in art the last gasp towards a particularly defined femininity in the face of women's increasing self-determination? or do these images, like yesterday's, portray something cherished about "the other"?

(l: gekko ogata, guy rose, david gauld.
r: george henry, yoshitoshi taiso, chikanobu toyohara.)

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23 March 2007

i'm just saying....

same thing?

not the same thing?

21 March 2007

holding the moon

been thinking a lot today, about the nature of holidays and the holidays of nature. in japan, the blossoming of the cherry trees calls for cherry-viewing parties at the highest levels.

in persia, the first day of the spring
is new year's day.

yes, we have nature-based holidays. our spring holidays are easter and passover. these are really celebrating the equinox as much as chanukah and christmas
celebrate the solstice.

but for the japanese, it's much more conscious. something about us being part of nature, nature being part of us, has not been lost.

van gogh may have been right, writing his brother about the regard with which the japanese hold a single blade of grass. the blossoming of the trees is cause for poetry.
this is ono no komachi writing a poem.
could this sad poem be it?

How invisibly

it changes color
in this world,
the flower

of the human heart.

(Chikanobu Toyohara, Shunzan Katsukawa,
Nobukazu Watanabe, Arthur Wesley Dow,
Gesso Yoshimoto, poem from Ink Dark Moon, tr. Hirshfield/Aratani.)

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20 March 2007

the ver sacrum

Nothing Stays Put

by Amy Clampitt

In memory of Father Flye, 1884-1985

The strange and wonderful are too much with us.
The protea of the antipodes--a great,
globed, blazing honeybee of a bloom--
for sale in the supermarket! We are in
our decadence, we are not entitled.

What have we done to deserve
all the produce of the tropics--
this fiery trove, the largesse of it
heaped up like cannonballs, these pineapples, bossed
and crested, standing like troops at attention,
these tiers, these balconies of green, festoons
grown sumptuous with stoop labor?

The exotic is everywhere, it comes to us
before there is a yen or a need for it. The green-
grocers, uptown and down, are from South Korea.
Orchids, opulence by the pailful, just slightly
fatigued by the plane trip from Hawaii, are
disposed on the sidewalks; alstroemerias, freesias
fattened a bit in translation from overseas; gladioli
likewise estranged from their piercing ancestral crimson;
as well as, less altered from the original blue cornflower
of the roadsides and railway embankments of Europe, these
bachelor's buttons. But it isn't the railway embankments
their featherweight wheels of cobalt remind me of, it's

a row of them among prim colonnades of cosmos,
snapdragon, nasturtium, bloodsilk red poppies,
in my grandmother's garden: a prairie childhood,
the grassland shorn, overlaid with a grid,
unsealed, furrowed, harrowed and sown with immigrant grasses,
their massive corduroy, their wavering feltings embroidered
here and there by the scarlet shoulder patch of cannas
on a courthouse lawn, by a love knot, a cross stitch
of living matter, sown and tended by women,
nurturers everywhere of the strange and wonderful,
beneath whose hands what had been alien begins,
as it alters, to grow as though it were indigenous.

But at this remove what I think of as
strange and wonderful, strolling the side streets of Manhattan
on an April afternoon, seeing hybrid pear trees in blossom,
a tossing, vertiginous colonnade of foam, up above--
is the white petalfall, the warm snowdrift
of the indigenous wild plum of my childhood.

Nothing stays put. The world is a wheel.
All that we know, that we're
made of, is motion.

From The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Copyright © 1997

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18 March 2007

The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings

June 24, 2007 -
September 16, 2007
Sterling and Francine
Clark Art Institute
225 South Street,
Williamstown, MA

This unprecedented exhibition challenges the conventional, long-held understanding of Claude Monet’s artistic process and life. Drawing upon recently discovered documents and a body of graphic work largely unknown to the public and scholars alike, the exhibition reveals that Monet (1840–1926) relied extensively upon drafting in the development of his paintings in addition to painting his subjects directly. Monet has long been seen as an anti-draftsman, having denied the role of drawing in his working method in an effort to advance his public image as an Impressionist.

The Unknown Monet is the first exhibition to focus on the artist’s graphic works, including pastels, finished drawings, and sketch- books. The show sheds new light on several aspects of Monet’s creative process by presenting a significant body of these works, many of which have not been previously exhibited, alongside related examples of his work in oil. more

it never really occurred to me before how much of the color was determined by the medium. this reminds me of redon--something monet certainly never did before.

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Lalique revolutionized jewelry and glass design.

By Amber Haq
Newsweek International

March 26, 2007 issue - Around the turn of the 20th century, the French artist, jeweler and glassware artisan René Lalique spent hours studying Japanese plants in the botanical gardens of Paris. Japanese horticulture was in vogue all over Europe, and Lalique labored relentlessly to complete intricate sketches of unfamiliar plants such as hydrangeas and chrysanthemums.

His aim: "To create something no one has ever seen before," he wrote.

Now visitors to the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris can witness those wonders. "The Exceptional Jewels of Lalique, 1890-1912" (through July 29) is the largest-ever exhibition of the French master's work, gathering together some 300 pieces from around the world.

Visitors are plunged into a magical universe of color and texture: orchids carved out of opal and jade; Japanese-style hair combs adorned with wasps and Egyptian beetles; bats and cats in lacquered enamel; dog collars embellished with pearls; the soft, fleshy female form metamorphosing into a dragonfly, or couched supine on a bed of moonstone. more

(many of these pieces can be seen regularly at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian.)

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