japonisme: paper wonder cloth wonder

03 July 2012

paper wonder cloth wonder


another cornucopia of treasures have opened their doors much wider than they'd done before -- the metropolitan museum of art. it just occurred to me that one no longer is required to say 'the metropolitan museum of new york' because the great museums of the world are no longer fixed in one place.

you cannot imagine how much this thrills me. for example, one of the first things i did in paris was to go to the museum of decorative arts (i'm not sure if that's what it was called then, then being 1989), go into the back rooms where the glassware wasn't so much displayed as stored in cabinets with labels on them. and i was so enthralled that i took notes so i would never forget:

"daum-- pink fleurs, silver a nuit; albert louis dammouse-- les colours l'art nouveau et iris verre; alphonse georges rayen-- red wheat a blend & lotus; galle-- very pale blue & green; pannier freres-- red carp & lotus; george despret-- les colours...." of course i remember none of these and am not even sure that i am reading my own writing correctly. what you are reading is ecstasy by glass.

having the newly increased access to the met's collections feels like that too. one (me) can spend all day viewing french clothing from the 20th century, taking sidetrips at coco chanel, callot soeurs, madeline vionnet, and the house of worth. while i wish the timeline searches were more, the whole set of fine-tuning possibilities can make finding your particular interests easy.

and look at these colors; it might as well be spring. after the first world war, design was bursting out all over, nature, color, and the drift towards abstraction had become normalized to the western eye, and there was reason to celebrate.

"after the austerity of the war years there was a move towards strong colors and a touch of the exotic." 1

these styles, these artists, are not new to this blog; chinoiserie is more mentioned in that book than japonisme, but it's traces are evident.

designers from the silver studio "show their interest in the formal clarity of japanese designs. particularly influential were the beautifully rhythmic, conventionalized patterns of woodblocks and stencils. arthur silver himself was deeply interested in japanese art, subscribing to bing's artistic japan, and collecting japanese prints and stencil sheets."

the book is quite clear in reminding us that these scrumptious designs were available only to the rich. the rich had more a taste for them; the rich could afford them. i had a similar realization in perusing the 1920s fashions on the met's site. had i been there, i might have worked where i helped design them, but i would never ever wear one. i would never hang these papers on my walls.

fortunately that ache can be assuaged with glory: that one may now devour the riches of the past, almost up close and personal, is incredibly satisfying, and takes up much less room in the closets.

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Blogger Gerrie said...

These are fabulous designs, truly applied ART.

04 July, 2012 14:53  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i'm so glad you can feel them too, gerrie. there is a textile designer who lives on my street and i was telling her today (4th of july we always have a block party) about my infatuation with this stuff. people who understand, like you and like her, really make such a difference.

04 July, 2012 18:14  
Blogger violetta said...

I stumbled across your blog when I looked up Arthur Wesley Dow books -Composition, Understanding Line, Notan and Color is a special book to me now- everything about his philosophy on art resonates perfectly, as does your amazing blog.

04 July, 2012 20:14  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

violetta-- thank you. for me too, something about dow brings everything right.

05 July, 2012 07:37  

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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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