japonisme: 2/20/11 - 2/27/11

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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20 February 2011

tomorrow in wisconsin

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art fecundity

I have just recently come across the work
of William Gorge, whose work is clearly
the result of the mating of the work of
Arie Zonneveld and the work of Frances Gearhart.

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born in evil days


And how can I, born in evil days
And fresh from failure, ask a kindness of Fate?

-- Written A.D. 819

Po Chu-i, balding old politician,
What's the use?
I think of you,
Uneasily entering the gorges of the Yang-Tze,

When you were being towed up the rapids
Toward some political job or other
In the city of Chungshou.
You made it, I guess,
By dark.

But it is 1960, it is almost spring again,
And the tall rocks of Minneapolis
Build me my own black twilight
Of bamboo ropes and waters.

Where is Yuan Chen,
the friend you loved?

Where is the sea, that once solved the whole loneliness
Of the Midwest?Where is Minneapolis? I can see nothing
But the great terrible oak tree darkening with winter.

Did you find the city
of isolated men
beyond mountains?

Or have you been holding the end of a frayed rope
For a thousand years?

James Wright

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