japonisme: trippy

31 August 2009


when i was a young hippy, underground comix were all the rage, but of course we would never say 'all the rage.' we would say, 'far out,' or 'blows my mind,' or 'toooo much,' or maybe even 'outta sight!' but for sure we would say.... 'triiiippy.....'

i am here to remind you that trippy did not begin in 1968 (or even '67).

of so many of the japanese prints we've seen we might ask, 'what were they smoking?!'

the answer could actually be, 'the same thing you were.' not only was weed legal and enjoyed by many, but it's not such a stretch to see its effects in the prints (of yoshitoshi and kunisada especially).

'a fuckin' hole in my reality,' indeed.

however, there was much more to learn about from the prints beyond just the unpredictability of demons. there were all the other things the westerners were learning from the japanese at that time.

the outline. the strong graphic elements. the flat areas of color. the new and unexpected (to western eyes) uses of and juxta- position of pattern, color, and design. that so many of the prints were surreal goes without saying.

now i am not saying that dave sheri- dan (dealer mcdope) had seen jap- anese prints and used them for inspiration -- he may have, or may have not.

but i can suggest that some of their prede- cessors very likely did. artists like winsor mccay and frank king were wor- king at just that same moment where we here at japonisme usually hang out.

they were exposed to lautrec's posters, and the nabis and the printmakers of their times. they may also have been exposed to manga.

a comic book is a comic book, a super-hero knows no country.

the prints' surrealism of melting bodies and emboldened design has become normal to our eyes.

but imagine being
the westerner
seeing them
for the very first time.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Herge, Tintin's and the "Ligne Claire"'s father (lotusgreen, tintinswave,22/06/07),is very close to japanese prints, at least for certain albums: no cross-hatching, no shadows, flat areas of colours.
Since you know french, enjoy cette chinoiserie:

03 September, 2009 07:49  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh i totally agree! the layout of every frame attests to that with its layout -- perfectly hiroshigian!

thanks for the link but i couldn't watch very far. i just recently learned of the british 'plot' that addicted the chinese to opium and i still am outraged.

and i couldn't understand the song cause i really don't speak french all that well....

03 September, 2009 09:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outrageous, indeed. This song was against it too. "What were they smoking?" reminded it to me. Concerning Herge again, there is a huge difference between his american inspired beginnings and the later Ligne Claire, when he literary jumps in neo-japonisme as a choice because he wasn't submitted to engraving technical problems. It's strange that Herge specialists from Belgium or France pretend to ignore it. d

03 September, 2009 10:31  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i just went off looking and you're right--herge is consistantly credited with *inventing* ligne claire, which they then go off to describe, using the exact descriptions of japanese prints.

03 September, 2009 10:58  
Blogger Dominic Bugatto said...

Great post as usual , my head's swimming ;-)

07 September, 2009 07:35  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks, dominic! yeah, i guess this is right up your alley!

07 September, 2009 08:49  

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