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Japonism Collage

Japonism

Started: 1854

Ended: 1920

Japonism Timeline

Quotes

"A Japanese artist grasps form always by reaching underneath for its geometry, never losing sight of its spiritual efficacy."
Frank Lloyd Wright
"I envy the Japanese the extreme clarity that everything in their work has.. Their work is as simple as breathing, and they do a figure with a few confident strokes with the same ease as if it was as simple as buttoning your waistcoat."
Vincent van Gogh
"Just think of that; isn't it almost a new religion that these Japanese teach us, who are so simple and live in nature as if they themselves were flowers? And we wouldn't be able to study Japanese art, it seems to me, without becoming much happier and more cheerful, and it makes us return to nature, despite our education and our work in a world of convention."
Vincent van Gogh
"Why are we so busy elaborately trying to get earth to heaven instead of seeing this simple Shinto wisdom of sensibly getting heaven decently to earth?"
Frank Lloyd Wright
"Sometimes I miss out the morning's painting session and instead study my Japanese books in the open."
Gustav Klimt
"the very best fine art practiced at the present day in any corner of the globe, is the decorative art of the Japanese."
William Rossetti
"the introduction of the works of Japanese handicraftsmen into England has done as much to improve our national taste as even our schools of art and public museums...for these Japanese objects have got into our homes and among them we live."
Christopher Dresser
"If you study Japanese art you see a man who is undoubtedly wise, philosophic and intelligent, who spends his time how? In studying the distance between the earth and the moon? No. In studying the policy of Bismarck? No. He studies a single blade of grass. But this blade of grass leads him to draw every plant and then the seasons, the wide aspects of the countryside, then animals, then the human figure. So he passes his life, and life is too short to do the whole."
Vincent van Gogh

KEY ARTISTS

Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet
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James WhistlerJames Whistler
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Edgar DegasEdgar Degas
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Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
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Paul GauguinPaul Gauguin
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Mary CassattMary Cassatt
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"All my work is based to some extent on Japanese art.."

Vincent van Gogh Signature

Synopsis

Depicting the world through an alternate lens from the Western Renaissance, the introduction of Japanese art and design to Europe brought about revolutions in composition, palette, and perspectival space. Japonism, also often referred to by the French term, japonisme, refers to the incorporation of either iconography or concepts of Japanese art into European art and design. It is important to note that this integration was often based on European notions of Japanese culture as much as authentic influence. Most of the Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist artists, as well as the members of the Aesthetic movement, were deeply influenced by this new approach to representation.

Key Ideas

As Japan began trade with Europe, the aesthetic and philosophies of Japanese design quickly became fashionable. European collectors amassed both high-end objets d'art and inexpensive prints (which were actually originally included as packing material for fragile luxury goods).
Artists seeking a fresh alternative to the Renaissance tradition of illusionistic painting were drawn to the vivid colors and new perspectives of Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints. While these images remained realistic, their simplified palettes, unusual viewpoints, minimalistic arrangements, and flattened space inspired European painters to experiment with their compositions.
Studying Japanese prints, painters began to experiment with new ideas of perspective. They copied the common juxtapositions of objects near and far, along with unconventional cropping to create less symmetrical and more engaging compositions. This, combined with bright patterns of juxtaposed colors, often rendered in flat planes reminiscent of woodblock prints, created a flattening effect that became central to modernist painting.
The appeal of Japonism was paradoxical: it was both appreciated for its exoticism and quickly assimilated as the organic expression of Western artistic ideals. Elements of the Japanese style were considered to express French and British sensibilities, even when they remained identifiable as Asian influences.

Beginnings

Japonism Image

Precedents

Japonism built upon the Orientalist influences that were pervasive in European Neoclassical and Romantic art. The 18th-century aristocratic fashion for chinoiserie, based in imported Chinese art, merged with styles learned from French colonialist expansion in the Middle East and northern Africa. In the first half of the 19th century, artists as varied Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres turned to Orientalist subjects, developing dramatic intensely colored scenes as seen in Delacroix's Death of Sardanapalus (1827) or reconfiguring figurative work with sensual treatments such as Ingres's La Grande Odalisque (1814).

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Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino
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