japonisme: returning to the source

01 November 2011

returning to the source

there's a lot of talk on the print blogs about treasure found or envied on ebay and elsewhere. most of these fall into the general category i call japonisme, ie. drawn from the styles and methods of the newly found japanese prints that had made their way to the west.

what may sometimes be forgotten is that one may find treasures on ebay or elsewhere that is less the derivative and more the original. (by the way, the beak on the egret is color-added by me.)

now of course, these distinctions become hopelessly tangled when we talk about the era around 1900, give or take 20 years, when these were made. unquestionably, the influence had been felt in both directions. though to my eyes, it's easy to tell which is western and which is japanesse.

in any case, these can be a delight on their own standing. now, i've "prettified" them, and hope i haven't made them much worse, but i was only trying to compensate for the difficulties involved in photographing an item to list and not for any deficiencies in the art itself.

it's just amazing to me what's available for so little; treasures indeed. looking at the monkeys, the bunnies, the birds, from both cultures it can be very interesting to notice the differences and the similarities.

while there are numerous japanese print shops that offer these illustrated books, on ebay i've found only one. this seller, who goes by 'utagawa123,' offers a tremendous amount of these beautiful books, which seem to be in wonderful condition, and whose prices all start at $9.99

the prices do get bid up sometimes, but i found only 3 that had gone over the neighborhood of $300, and some end up selling for much less. all but one of the images here are from her ebay stock. the one is the top right, that gorgeous swan. it comes from Morra Japanese Art, who also offers many wonderful ehon, books.

of course, if you're like me, more inclined to look and learn than to collect, there are always the MFA in Boston, and the NYC Public Library Digital Collection. there are millions of other places -- enjoy finding them on your own!

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Anonymous evan said...

Win win. European artists are introduced to new ways of using line & color, Japanese artists find that they include Western perspective into their work without totally blowing up tradition. As an artist (& no narcissism here lol!) I imagine all artists eventually have an epiphany of some sort, whether it's a sudden awareness of something, or introduction to imagery that rocks the established way of image making. There's something about epiphanies & permission to veer off the traditional path...I envision a European artist painting in some traditional "school" seeing a Japanese print for the first time & realizing- school's out.

02 November, 2011 10:34  
Blogger Gerrie said...

Lily these are points well put. And well taken. You're absolutely right in stating the real wealth is in the mind. In knowing (look and learn) these pictures, works of art and their makers. Some are indeed quite familiar with recent postings on modern "printblogs". These examples of some lesser (known) Gods of Japanese printmaking are amazingly exquisite. Thank you for adding another gallery in my privat Museum of the Mind.

02 November, 2011 12:04  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

my my-- the both of you are surely silver-tongued today!

evan-- i wonder if that same kind of thing happens every generation, though admittedly, the ability to, in the flowering of your career as in artist, you suddenly are introduced to a whole new culture. on the other hand, that likely happens on the internet every day....

gerrie -- would you get the reference if i said, "galleries R us"! :^)

02 November, 2011 12:57  
Blogger Gerrie said...

Yes Lily ofcouяse I do.

02 November, 2011 15:04  
Blogger Nancy Ewart said...

What beautiful images and thanks for the links; I spend a delightful day at the NY Public library website, going from image to image. When I looked up, it was time to fix dinner! I love the Japanese influence and find that my current painting is becoming more simplified and with stronger patches of color - a la Japanese. I love their strong designs which I feel "work" better than a lot of contemporary Western art which tends to be all over the place.

09 November, 2011 17:21  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i'm so happy you liked the nypl site! and to hear you've been inspired.

09 November, 2011 18:42  

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