japonisme: 6/10/07 - 6/17/07

16 June 2007

besides the madonna

it is said that mary cassatt received the inspiration to attempt her long series of mother and child portraits from utamaro's portraits of the same.

up to that point this was hardly a legitimate subject for fine art.

is it not then reasonable to think that pioneering photographer gertrude kasebier benefitted from the same inspiration?

and isn't it interesting that war had always been considered fit.

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15 June 2007

saturday evening girls

as a response to unem- ployment, lack of education, and dismal living conditions amongst north boston immigrants, a local library organized a group for jewish and italian teenaged girls. for at least one night a week it got them off the street, and it got them reading.

as the women running the program began to recognize the girls' real needs, a program was begun wherein the girls were taught a trade: pottery making. and thus paul revere pottery was born.

today at auction a lovely SEG bowl might fetch $21,000.

[In the above example, the artist] interpreted Queen Anne's lace in a stylized manner with a heavy black outline [as in japanese prints] from several points of view and at varying stages of bloom. Broad bands shift from white through three shades of blue to a grayish yellow-green, which merges with the plants' foliage. This effect reveals the influence of color theories espoused by tonalist artist Arthur Wesley Dow. [and as seen in the japanese prints] 1

and, wonderfully, somehow, i think, this was not an anomaly. newcomb pottery, marblehead pottery, arquipa pottery, and others as has very similar circumstances as their beginnings.

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14 June 2007


while photo- graphers in the west struggled to define them- selves, to them- selves and to the world, as artists, many japanese printmakers were going through a similar process. ironically, it was due to the popularization of the camera that interest began to falter in woodblock prints in japan, as one impor- tant function they had ful- filled was to document.

artists in france were going through a related process, breaking free of the documentarian, glorified, idealized portrait of life that was still what was considered appropriate as real art in france. impressionists and printmakers were hotheads; this would all blow over. documentation was no longer a goal of

many of the fine arts, and thus artists were freed to explore the sensations, impressions, of a particular place, rather than its precise dimensions.

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13 June 2007

The Quiet Landscapes of William B. Post

William B. Post (1857-1921) of Fryeburg, Maine, was an influential member of the Photo- Secession, the group that first championed art photography in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. A colleague of Alfred Stieglitz, Post was active from the mid-1880s through the 1910s, producing platinum prints.

Post frequently captured the seasonal changes to the Maine landscape in his sensitively printed photographs such as Intervale, Winter of 1899. The most widely exhibited photograph during his lifetime, this image also appeared as a photogravure in Stieglitz's famous magazine Camera Work. The high horizon line, the expanse of snow in the foreground, and the limited tonal ranges of the trees suggest his creative ability to invent new compositions and poetic harmonies influenced by Japanese art. His use of a narrow, vertical format and choice of floral subjects in other pictures also relates to Asian scroll paintings.

Like many painters, photographers, and designers of his day, Post absorbed the craze for Japonisme after a trip to Japan in 1891. He began showing his photographic work in New York the following year, and in 1893 he showed the young Stieglitz how to use a hand-held camera.

[yes, this article, reviewing a show that has been making the rounds for a year or so, is about post, but, as clearly seen in the last paragraph, it could be about ivan bilibin, in his little vertical print. it could be about coburn or white, whose photographic histories resemble that of post in many ways. and of course riviere's 36 views of the eiffel tower fits right in.]

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12 June 2007

Water Lilies

If you have forgotten water lilies floating
On a dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade,
If you have

forgotten their wet,
sleepy fragrance,
Then you can return and
not be afraid.

But if you remember, then turn away forever
To the plains and the prairies where pools are far apart,
There you will not come at dusk on closing water lilies,
And the shadow of mountains will not fall on your heart.

(and)...................................................Sara Teasdale

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11 June 2007

towards less obscure....

a book i took out of the library today (great photographers--a time-life book, published in 1971) says this about the photo to the right:

'[clarence h.] white's preference for unassuming subjects is seen in this view of his home town, newark, ohio. with meticulous care, he creates a still life of geometric patterns, exaggerating the foreground for effect and cropping the width of the print to accentuate the tall, skinny telephone poles.'


for some reason, there still seems to be very little recognition of the obvious japonisme in photographs, even when they are readily acknowledged in woodblock prints.

clarence h. white learned his style from arthur wesley dow; while the japanese prints themselves were hitting europe, it was dow who brought the design philosophy to americans.

gertrude kasebier studied with dow as well, and, obviously, in the same place.

as did margaret jordan patterson.

isn't it fascinating to note that what is so obvious to many of us now could have been so obscure as recently as 1971.

there will be a lot more on this, some wonderful photos.

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10 June 2007

together we sing

max klinger was born in leipzig and was consi- dered a surrealist for his visually and psycho- logically complex images. he worked in all media, including etching, painting, and scupture, to equal success.

gertrude kasebier was an american painter who turned to photography in her late thirties. she was a founding member of the photo- secession movement which brought to photography the same values as had been brought to all of the other arts, crafts, philosophies, etc.

ninko tsukioka was known for his work in sosaku hanga style, around the beginning of the twentieth century.

shinji ando was born in 1960, and studied art at the tokyo national university of fine arts and music.

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