japonisme: 3/25/07 - 4/1/07

31 March 2007

where we're joined

The architectural forms found in Japan are essentially pure structure.

Posts and beams supporting the roof and protecting and sheltering the occupants of the house are meticulously joined and finished without molding or applied trims.

Most structural components of the house are also the finish elements as well, so precise joinery and great care in assembly are necessary. 1

Scholars have long identified a Japanese influence on the American architect Frank Lloyd

Wright, even though he is well known for his insistence that his architecture and design were completely his own, without precedent.

Yet exam- ples of Japan- ese art and archi- tecture were so widespread in the United States by the time Wright began work in 1886 that it is very difficult to imagine how they could not have affected him.

Furthermore, he himself was a brilliant and prominent collector of Japanese art, especially prints.

After visiting Japan for the first time in early 1905, he wrote with knowledge and insight about Japanese art for the catalogue of an exhibition of his prints by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) held at the Art Institute of Chicago the following year, and in The Japanese Print: An Interpretation in 1912, a treatise on Oriental color theories, compositions, and symbolism that is central to his theory of ornament.

In both The Japanese Print and in an article o f 1908 entitled "In the Cause of Architecture," he described the relationship of Japanese art to his "organic" design, explaining that for the Japanese, design was a spiritual endeavor, the highest form of achievement, and the mother of all the arts and crafts.2

Timber Farmers Guild Conference: Experts on Japanese architecture will describe how it influenced architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Greene and Greene.3 (too bad it's 6 years ago--but there're some great photos.)

in either of these posts, can you tell who did what?
(long essay on japonisme in architecture, in french)

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30 March 2007

it is to laugh, and to wonder

greene and greene knew that their designs were influenced by the japanese--they had been forever altered in their career paths after seeing japanese work at the world expositions.

they studied japanese joinery, stone work, and even philosophy.

frank lloyd wright knew his work was influenced by the japanese. he knew their value of using native materials, he collected prints for years, and even made a pilgrimage to japan.

and yet still each is lauded for having, essentially, created a "new american architecture" independent of any historical standards.

Greene & Greene designs strongly influenced California’s archi- tectural heritage, their work has had international significance as well, inspiring countless architects and designers around the world through a legacy of extant structures, scholarly books and articles.

They were recognized by the American Institute of Architects in 1952 for contributing to a "new and native architecture" and are generally credited with fostering a new way of considering buildings and their furnishings as examples of artistic craft. 1

The Prairie School was a primarily residential architectural movement that began in Chicago yet rapidly spread across the Midwest. Ultimately its influence was felt around the world—most especially in north-central Europe and Australia....

A second factor nourishing the emergence of the Prairie School was the existence of a small group of dedicated individuals obsessed with the idea of creating a new American architecture, an architecture appropriate to the American Midwest and independent of historical styles.

The movement attracted more than a score of young men and women, the best known being Louis H. Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. 2

The years between 1902 and 1909 were extremely busy for the firm, and the commissions (mostly residences) during these years are considered the finest examples of the Arts and Crafts style, the architectural movement the brothers are credited with fathering in the United States. 3

Japanese architecture, like other arts, is more preoccupied with form than with surface embellishment. This temple at Kamakura is an example of Japanese architecture from the 13th century.

Japanese exteriors and interiors stress space and form, with decoration and furnishing limited to essentials. the asymmetric, multipurpose arrangement of Japanese houses, and the simple rectilinear forms created by framing and wall panelling were influential on early modernist architects, notably Frank Lloyd Wright, and the de Stijl and Bauhaus designers.

The forms of Japanese architecture and furniture were also a factor in the early development of the Arts and Crafts style in England. 4

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29 March 2007

is it true what they say about hats?

i have read (though i can't find it just now) that the japanese hairstyles that were 'discovered' in prints and in visits to japan had a great influence in the hats of the day.

what is it with hats, and hair? why is it that century after century we do things with our hair or wear things on our heads that seriously increase its volume?

is it a frame for the face? a crown? an unconscious wish to appear threatening? a wish to enhance beauty?

in any case, at that point in time, japanese styles were influencing everything, so why not hats?

As the 19th century drew to a close the hats got big enough to use as fire buckets... (more)

immense, yard-wide hats, laden with plumes and feathers or with basket-loads of artificial flowers... (more)

(left: edouard vuillard, georges de feure, utagawa kuniyoshi, and again kuniyoshi. right: not known yet, kunisada utagawa, jules-alexandre grun, gabriele munter.)

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28 March 2007

the art of loie fuller reemerges

On Tuesday, April 3, 2007 the Westminster Arts Center at Bloomfield College will host the performance “Dance of the Elements,” a powerful celebration featuring dance pieces by Jody Sperling (Time Lapse Dance) which bring The Art of Loie Fuller to life. The performance will begin at 7:30 pm in the Van Fossan Theatre located on the corner of Franklin and Fremont Streets in Bloomfield, and will also include a lecture-demonstration.

Artistic Director Jody Sperling (Time Lapse Dance), a choreographer, performer and dance scholar gives a postmodern twist to vintage genres, from the mesmerizing spectacles of Loie Fuller, to circus and music hall entertainments. Sperling, who is based in New York City, has gained an international reputation as an expert on Loie Fuller and as an interpreter of Fuller's style of dancing. She combines research with imagination, to craft inventive, visually lush, and often humorous dances. Her luminous works in the style of early modern dancer Loie Fuller are a mainstay of the repertory; other dances draw inspiration from such eclectic imagery as sideshow contortion acts, partner acrobatics, hula-hooping, low-flying trapeze, burlesque, Degas ballerinas, magic-lantern shows, mermaid myths, and... (more)

for more about fuller, see our earlier post; also check out kora in hell about fuller and other dancers of that era.

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swimming in memories

it occurs to me frequently that while i have a list of where to access japanese prints, i do not have one, exactly, for their western counterparts. my reasoning is that i more often do mention them in calendar and commentary. which i'll continue to try to do more and more.

i tried tracing the the artist of this harper's cover, and the closest i could come was that it

was very possibly will bradley. bradley has been mentioned here a couple of times, and certainly deserves a post of his own, which will come. in the meantime, i've provided a link to more than you could possibly read at one sitting, so i have faith in your patience.

on the right is a postcard, from japan--turn of the century. i haven't mentioned these before though because i wasn't sure how to place them, exactly. well, too bad. i still don't but they certainly deserve mention! there are so many wonderful ones.

done during the meiji era's mixing of cross- cultural influences, this body of work, available online at boston's mfa, demonstrates just how crossed that cultural moment was. the cards illustrate everything from blonds in art nouveau settings to travel cards of locales around japan, from deco to ukiyo-e. it's hard to tell who the work was made for, the new tourists, for overseas sales, or for domestic, but they do make clear that the days of two radically separate cultures were definitely over.

of the artist here, ichijo narumi, i could find nothing.

[turns out it's not will bradley. michael ward, magazineart.org personified, was kind enough to send me this signature that was too small to read on the reproduction. but which kerr it is, we have no idea. there are so many that i finally gave up on my google search. anyone know?]

don't miss magazineart.org (as i was just reminded by '100 years of illustration'), source of many years of wondrous magazine art.

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27 March 2007



(la seconde est keinen imao, le premier, je ne savent pas.)
[turns out to have been lalique! should have known. thanks again florizel, poet of images, for the info.]

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26 March 2007

time travel

yesterday turned up additional serendipitous time-travel as well. another alert, this time for 'japonisme,' landed me here. there, i learned of an artist who was new to me: louis anquetin.

so what does one do in such a case? why, a google image search, of course. and that turned me up here. what a wondrous site. (for an even fuller experience, go here.) in addition to introducing me to many wonderful new artists, this site taught me two things: 1.) there really were quite a number of painters at the time who didn't seem to be at all caught into the japonisme frenzy, and 2.) that adding their work to one's knowledge really begins to give a more full feeling for what it was like to be there then. (the site even compares paintings with photographs.)

anquetin was profoundly influenced by the new japanese influx, specializing in what he called 'cloisonnisme,' just another word for 'it,' i think.

others of the new artists i met were ramon casas,

giuseppe de nittisouge,

and federico zandomeneghi.

and yes, i do see diagonals, and blocks of color, and screens.... but what i see beyond these things is that moment, that moment when all of this was taking place, so thrilling, decorative, and profound.

if you go through all the images on the lautrec site, you will see many faces that are decidedly not the sarah bernhardts, nor the jane avrils. they are not necessarily having any fun. their hairdos occasionally look rather odd, as though they were trying the fashion because it was the fashion, and not because it suited them.

in short, in a way, you will see yourself. ordinary people of another time.

(anquetin, anquetin, casas,casas, de nittisouge, zandomeneghi)

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