japonisme: 10/28/07 - 11/4/07

03 November 2007


[T]richotomy is a pattern of American Culture. [I]t is, and will probably continue to be, an important cognitive category in American (an Old World) culture.

As for how individuals learn about the pattern, there are probably many sources. Three dimensions of space, the three tenses of time, and the good-better-best paradigm all exert some influence.

But an Am- er- ican three-year-old has already been exposed to the category in folkloristic form, perhaps before he realizes the space, time, and linguistic features.

For are there not three men in a tub? three bags of Baa Baa Black Sheep's wool? three little kittens who lost their mittens? three little pigs? Is not the third item called for by Old King Cole his fiddlers three?

Is there an American child who has not heard the story of the three bears? This latter story is a narrative listing of trichotomies in which the mediating third term is invariable "just right." (Note that the third term is associated with the child bear rather than the mother and father bears.)

The child is conditioned by his folklore to expect three and his culture does not disappoint him. Language, social organization, religion, and almost all other aspects of American culture confirm the pattern.

Trichotomy exists but it is not the nature of nature. It is part of the nature of culture. At this point, if anyone is skeptical about there being a three-pattern in American culture, let him give at least three good reasons why.

Alan Dundes 1

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02 November 2007

japonisme in japan

the Izu Glass & Craft Museum, with an exquisite collection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco decorative arts, including figurines, vases, perfume bottles, jewelry and more by artists like Galle, Lalique, Tiffany, Erte, and Daum.

All were influenced by the Japonism craze that swept through the Western world in the late 19th century, apparent in the frequent use of dragonflies, water lilies, orchids, and other Asian motifs.

Van Gogh produced several paintings that closely mirror Japanese woodblock artists like Utagawa Hiroshige.

Galle used one of Japanese illustrator Hokusai’s carp drawings for his relief of a carp in a glass vase.

Vuitton’s famous monograms are said to resemble crests used by Japanese feudal clans.

The museum also exhibits Western clothes that show strong Japanese influences, such as cocktail dresses made from the cloth of a kimono. 1

lalique's decorative use of fish, including many species of carp, can be attributed to the influence of japonisme.

fish and waves are modeled in the manner of the japanese artists hiroshige and hokusai.

many of lalique's mold-blown vases are simply decorated japanese forms, with shallow relief patterns which rarely interrupt the pleasing outline.

from lalique glass.

By 1890, Lalique was recognized as one of France's foremost Art Nouveau jewellery designers; creating innovative pieces for Samuel Bing's new Paris shop, La Maison de l'Art Nouveau.

He went on to be one of the most famous in his field, his name synonymous with creativity and quality. 2

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01 November 2007



at century's end,
compounded metallic lusters

in reference
to natural sheens (dragonfly
and beetle wings,

marbled light on kerosene)
and invented names
as coolly lustrous

as their products'
scarab- gleam: Quetzal,
Aurene, Favrile.

respectively, the glaze
of feathers,

that sun-shot fog
of which halos
are composed,

and -- what?
What to make of Favrile,
Tiffany's term

for his coppery-rose
flushed with gold
like the alchemized

atmosphere of sunbeams
in a Flemish room?
Faux Moorish,

fake Japanese,
his lamps illumine
chiefly themselves,

copying waterlilies'
bronzy stems,
wisteria or trout scales;

surfaces burnished
like a tidal stream
on which an excitation

of minnows boils
and blooms, artifice
made to show us

the lavish wardrobe
of things, the world's
glaze of appearances

worked into the thin
and gleaming stuff
of craft. A story:

at the puppet opera
--where one man animated
the entire cast

while another ghosted
the voices, basso
to coloratura -- Jimmy wept

at the world of tiny gestures,
forgot, he said,
these were puppets,

forgot these wire
and plaster fabrications
were actors at all,

since their pretense
allowed the passions
released to be--

well, operatic.
It's too much,
to be expected to believe;

art's a mercuried sheen
in which we may discern,
because it is surface,

clear or vague
suggestions of our depths,
Don't we need a word

for the luster
of things which insist
on the fact they're made,

which announce
their maker's bravura?
Favrile, I'd propose,

for the perfect lamp,
too dim and strange
to help us read.

For the kimono woven,
dipped in dyes, unraveled
and loomed again

that the pattern might take on
a subtler shading
For the sonnet's

blown-glass sateen,
for bel canto,
for Faberge

For everything
which begins in limit
(where else might our work

begin?) and ends in grace,
or at least extravagance.
For the silk sleeves

of the puppet queen,
held at a ravishing angle
over her puppet lover slain,

for her lush vowels
mouthed by the plain man
hunched behind the stage.

© Mark Doty

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31 October 2007


death in a kimono

Emily Dickinson

The Spider as an Artist
Has never been employed—
Though his surpassing Merit
Is freely certified

By every Broom and Bridget
Throughout a Christian Land—
Neglected Son of Genius
I take thee by the Hand—

Online text © 1998-2007 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
From The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson | Written c. 1873

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29 October 2007

blue squills


How many million Aprils came
Before I ever knew
How white a cherry bough could be,
A bed of squills, how blue!

And many a dancing April
When life is done with me,
Will lift the blue flame of the flower

And the white flame of the tree.

Oh burn me with your beauty, then,
Oh hurt me, tree and flower,
Lest in the end death try to take

Even this glistening hour.

O shaken
flowers, O shimmering trees,

O sunlit white and blue,
Wound me, that I, through endless sleep,

May bear the scar of you.
Sara Teasdale

Online text © 1998-2007 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
Flame and Shadow | Macmillian, 1920

(to read the lyrics of the cherry blossom song, click
to go there click here.)

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28 October 2007

The Crazy Years (two reasons i wish i was in paris today)

LEXPRESS.fr du 24/10/2007
Au rythme des Années folles

Héloïse Gray

Le musée Galliera célèbre cette formidable époque de créativité, qui marque l'avènement de la garçonne et d'une mode libérée des corsets.

Le jour, elle roule vers l'hippodrome de Longchamp dans son manteau «100 à l'heure» de chez Dornac; le soir, elle fait danser les franges de perles de sa robe Poiret au Bœuf sur le toit, rue Boissy-d'Anglas... Le musée Galliera nous fait revivre la vie effrénée de la femme des Années folles, à travers l'exposition du même nom. «Nous voulions montrer la richesse des pièces du musée, dont certaines ont été restaurées pour l'occasion. Par ailleurs, les années 1920 sont à la mode: un livre sur Jeanne Lanvin [éd. Rizzoli] et un autre sur Lucien Lelong [éd. Le Promeneur] vont être publiés, et les collections actuelles font écho à cette période aux influences multiples», explique Sophie Grossiord, commissaire de l'exposition.

Mais, au-delà du cliché de la garçonne en robe tubulaire à taille basse et chapeau cloche, Les Années folles veulent montrer en quelque 170 modèles et 200 accessoires la naissance d'une mode libérée de ses corsets. «C'est une époque qui marque l'émancipation de la femme et l'avènement de valeurs comme la jeunesse, la minceur et le sport», poursuit Sophie Grossiord. Les couturiers travaillent donc sur le mouvement en jouant sur les coupes et aussi les matières, à l'instar de Coco Chanel et de Jean Patou, qui ennoblissent la maille.

Un volet est consacré à la garçonne, qui, cheveux courts et clope au bec, emprunte au vestiaire masculin ses sweaters et ses pyjamas... mais revêt le soir une robe à danser. Cette invention résume à elle seule l'esprit de l'époque: mouvement et confort, simplification des lignes et richesse des motifs décoratifs (broderies métalliques, perles, franges, plumes...).

A découvrir également dans ce parcours exhaustif: la richesse des influences artistiques (une veste «simultanée» de Sonia Delaunay), un Orient mythique qui fait rêver les couturiers (la Russie de Paul Poiret, la Grèce de Madeleine Vionnet...). Mais aussi des pièces exceptionnelles de Jeanne Lanvin présentées au Pavillon de l'Elégance de l'Exposition universelle de 1925. Un voyage magique aux origines de la modernité.

Les Années folles. 1919-1929. Musée Galliera, 10, avenue Pierre- Ier- de- Serbie, Paris (XVIe), 01- 56- 52- 86- 00 et [doesn't seem to be working] www.galliera.paris.fr. Jusqu'au 29 février 2008. 1

(and that last photo? well i just found out that mucha designed the entire shop for the jeweler fouquet -- with whom he also made jewelry for sarah bernhardt -- and that the entire thing has been recreated -- long ago but i'm not sure when -- at the musee carnavalet in paris....) 2

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