japonisme: disagree with awe

01 August 2011

disagree with awe

In our narrow-minded fuss over progress -- while displaying an artistic hubris that only listens to its own voice -- we would have already reached complete bankruptcy, despite the short duration of the modern movement, if Japanese art had not served it as a pillar. With few exceptions, every innovation we wanted to achieve in the realm of natural forms here in Europe had already been done as well, or often much better in Japan -- imparted to us with a certain deviation from its national style.

In Japan all the preconditions were at hand for a tendency toward this quasi-naturalistic sort of art: not organically-arranged forms in the manner of Greek art, but rather effects with completely smooth surfaces; instead of monumental structures, playful, simple forms whose only function is to be held in the hand and to be tenderly observed by an individual.

A rich technique, and nonetheless one which at times rests in the quality of handwork. A loving examination of nature, a measured stylization, one that has been practiced for centuries. A sensitivity for color, taken to its extreme, besides a good deal of plain childlikeness, a joy in the bizarre, in the wonderful ways of nature. It is an art from which one can learn an infinite amount and which could just as easily lead one astray.

Whoever is used to see art forms as something not coincidental -- as we should all be, the devotees of Winkelmann's art history -- who ever sees them instead as the necessary historical result of the general development of art, will find it unlikely that our century, which experienced a complete crisis of all views and lifestyles as a result of the appearance of the natural sciences, would be able to create its artistic expression purely from the reserve of the past.

A period that sets itself so strongly apart from the past, must, and will create for itself a new sphere of shapes, which one day will be recognized as the style of the natural scientific age.

Julius Lessing, "What's Modern in Art?" Berlin, 1898


here i offer a few more images from the book/exhibition in my last post, and some extrapolations. we've seen before the design inspirations that were the triangle of glasgow, vienna, and poiret with japan but more is offered: the hoffmann at the bottom left, the moser in the middle, and the japanese on top. was the comb made for expert? we'll never know, but if it was, it might lessen its inspirational value. we'll never answer these questions. as we've seen, people constantly disagreed at the time as well. but nobody can disagree with awe.

see the whole year of 1898 of "ver sacrum" from which many of the images these two posts were taken.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Gerrie said...

Woo, these last two posts are a lot to take in and absorb. I've read them at least three, nay 4 times and I can see there's a world of experience and understanding behind it and it took me some time to catch up. But I can honestly say I begin to see what you are pointing at. The choosen pictures as always bewildering and new, are great. The anonymous who created the last, in before post, my absolute hero. What a monument.
Please continue to enlighten us in this wonderful world you're showing us.

04 August, 2011 09:05  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

well, i appreciate these glowing words! and i see you're gerrie again! now assuming that you do understand that i did not write the main parts of the last two posts, i'm gratified that you got something out of my choices. i truly appreciate your efforts.

i'm not really sure what you're referring to about the anonymous.

04 August, 2011 13:21  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh, perhaps you mean in the previous post -- yes, aren't they charming....

04 August, 2011 13:25  
Blogger Gerrie said...

Indeed, that's the one, what a great print. I perfectly understood the quotations, but the text and views are so modern they could easily be transfered to 2011.
I perticularly liked "the natural scientific age". I am chewing on what Julius really ment with that.
Gerrie.

04 August, 2011 14:35  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

if it was written in 2011, it might have said 'the digital age' (or whatever we're up to now).

look back at your natural science history, and i thihnk you're see it more clearly.

and i really appreciate your comments.

05 August, 2011 05:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I've been enjoying your blog for a while now - your collection of images is absolutely amazing. This isn't really related to this particular post but I found something you may perhaps appreciate - albeit in German, it's a 1905 edition of Lafcadio Hearn's KOKORO illustrated by Emil Orlik. You can download it here (unless you've already come upon it), in various formats:
http://www.archive.org/details/kokorohear00hear

06 August, 2011 10:24  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks for your kindness, and for your suggestion! i had seen the cover, but some of those inside illustrations are wonderful, and will appear at some time.

06 August, 2011 11:38  
Blogger lola ruiz said...

Hi from Spain again. I come back often and delighted read your posts. Love it!
Thank you.

10 August, 2011 03:03  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

hi lola-- it always feel good to have visits from spain!! :^) thank you.

10 August, 2011 09:58  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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