japonisme: roundabout home

05 June 2008

roundabout home

isn't it obvious?

does it remove anything from this stunning photograph by harold cazneaux to observe the clear influence of japanese design?

cazneaux is known as one of australia's finest pictorialist photo- graphers, but in no online discussion that i could find is that influence ever mentioned.

interestingly, though, i did find a really convoluted but fascinating 20-year-old discussion of the travel of that influence.

it's from the new york times, a review of a photography exhibition of the work of japanese-american artists.

What is now known, usually derisively, as salon photography, once represented the medium's best hope of being taken seriously as an art form, and Stieglitz was one of its leading practitioners.

But by the 1920's, its refined sense of beauty and its restrictions on both subject matter and composition conspired to make it an artistic backwater.

It was into this backwater that the twenty-nine Japanese- American photographers represented in the show dived headfirst.

From the evi- dence, they readily adopted its compositional tropes and its attention to chiaroscuro and texture, producing images with affinities to Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and sumi-e painting.

Ironically, the elements of Japanese style in these photographs come not from any inherent or native tradition, but from American Pictorialism's own Japonisme, which was largely inspired by the paintings of Whistler and the Post-Impressionists. 1

harold caz- neaux's work is being fea- tured this summer at the art gallery of new south wales.

i guess what must be happening is that all art is like jazz: people are always just riffing off each other. probably most never know where their influences come from because they're not analyzing, they're creating, being.

they're making art. and what do we care what pro- gres- sion got them there.

coincidentally, an exhibition coexisting with the cazneaux show is taisho chic.

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Blogger Dominic Bugatto said...

Wonderful juxtaposition of the photos & their kindred spirited renderings.

08 June, 2008 18:40  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thank you dominic. it sometimes can take time, but it can be both fun and jaw-dropping.

08 June, 2008 20:27  
Blogger Roxana said...

and we also share the same love for pictorialism :-) how beautiful that kurokawa... breathtaking!

10 June, 2008 05:37  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

isn't it wonderful!!!!

10 June, 2008 11:32  

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