japonisme: Turning Japanese II

26 February 2011

Turning Japanese II

This was the state of the art of printmaking in 1850,
the dark silence before the dawn of the Japanese
influence on everything:

Then the tsunami hit: and the stories
of the means of that onslaught are many.

Perhaps, since the woodblock prints were supposedly used
as wrapping paper on ceramic imports,
they were inadvertently discovered
by painters buying ashtrays.

(That's what they told me on the sightseeing tour to Giverney.)

There were the scholars, vendors, and pilgrims,
many of whom have been discussed here, whose
curiosity drove them to Japan itself as soon
as they could. They were inspired, profoundly awed,
and they looted the back rooms for whatever they could
for museums and private collections.

Extremely important, too were the Universal Expositions
which bloomed on every shore and brought
artist, craftsman, and person-on-the-street
into direct contact with the Japanese items themselves.

To explore the variety in more depth, check out this.

There were entrepreneurs on all shores (also previously
covered here), who opened shops, started magazines (or both),
to display and sell the imports; or in Japan where they began
to marshall artists to produce what the West wanted.

Now, I'm not saying that each artist pictured here was
introduced to Japanese arts and crafts in one of these ways.
What I am saying is that every single one (and all the more
who are not featured here) was influenced none the less.

No longer was the body's content as important as were its bones.
And all of the other Japonisme-y things: flat planes of color,
asymmetry, outlines. Consciously or unconsciously,
people had begun to see differently.

The language changed, and changes still.

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Blogger Haji baba said...

Brilliant idea, Lily, and shockingly beautiful imagery. I thought you'd been quiet. There are one or two people there I've never heard of. Nelson Dawson I know but I've never seen anything like that by him. But also a Siccard Redl new to me! Please send me a copy.

It's not so far-fetched about the wrapping paper. They still wrap your sweets/candies in handblocked paper in the sweet bazaar in Cairo if they know they're a gift.

Their decorative papers go back to Ottoman times.

26 February, 2011 12:29  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

it feels special to me, charles, to realize (this is probably a stupid thing to say) that you also might use that word 'shockingly' to describe beauty. it's as though a piercing has happened.

i'll send you a copy, plus the church one.

I've been collecting these boat images for at least five years, so i'm glad to find a good use -- and...... there are more!

26 February, 2011 12:37  
Blogger Gerrie said...

What a great collection of boat prints and nice presentation. Very good and informative to see them together. Even some new to me too. 3 serie print in the middle: printer Daniël Staschus 1872-1952),the print titled in german "vor Anker" (anchored). 3 serie last print by printer German printer Margarethe Gerhardt (1872-?) who moved to Ireland I discovered just recently. (I am preparing a posting on her)
Since you are into combining these days. Have you noticed most of our beloved printers were born 1875-1885 and almost all lived (very) long lifes.

27 February, 2011 00:45  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

what an exciting moment to come of age--i do know many of them died the year i was born. Coincidence? I think not! ;^)

thank you so much for the correction; my face is red, white, and blue.

27 February, 2011 07:29  
Anonymous evan said...

For some reason, I always thought that the prints were wrapped around fish...another where-did-that-come-from myth exploded. I can imagine what western artists thought when they saw Japanese art...the subtlety of color & profound graphism of design...it sounds weird...but I think it gave them permission to go off in directions that they may not have imagined even existed

27 February, 2011 12:28  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh i agree. now to put it in a context, the impressionists preceeded the graphic artists so by the time most of these images were created, peoples world-views had been tilted for a generation!

though the impressionists focussed on the regions of symmetry and subject, the real grappling with the important graphic elements skipped a generation

27 February, 2011 15:55  

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