Once upon a time Japan was terra incognito. Then along came Commander Perry in 1845 to “suggest” (he brought his fleet of American warships as a calling card) that Japan end its policy of national seclusion by opening its ports to trade, and the fascination with the exotic began.
Give yourself a pat if you guessed, “Art Group” post.
Woodblock painting was established by and for Japan’s lower class, with men producing the pieces and women selling them in local shops. But for western painters, ink painting was exotic; and this Ukiyo-e was widely collected as early as 1860 first by Monet and Degas, and later by Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Kandinsky and even artists like Vienna’s Gustav Klimt.
No surprise, then, that we see the influence of these pictures of the floating world in Impressionist pieces. Like the wave prints that appear to just be cut off, so too are Monet’s Waterloo Bridge and Anglers on the Seine.
Degas, too, was inspired by this effect in Dance Class.
“Japomania” conquered Vienna, too, with the 1873 World’s Fair. Austrian Artist Hans Makat was inspired to paint Die Japanerin two years later.
Paul Gauguin climbed aboard the Japonism train, too, but with a slightly different approach. Rather than painting the exotic (like the Geisha below) he exchanged the topic for the ordinary Brittany woman.
Not sure whether this counts as Japonism? Neither am I.
In between, an Austrian artist was commissioned to create a piece for this exhibit. This is entitled, Tea House.
Ahem. Moving along, Gustav Klimt was enamored with the Japanese; he collected kimonos, netsuke and prints, and his Mermaids: Dancing Silverfish is thought to reflect the style of Japanese silk panels. Don’t feel bad, I don’t see the connection, either.
Austria’s Koloman Moser’s Blick auf den Wolfgangsee had more Japanese influence, I thought.
To end our as always exceptionally well-curated tour, though I am always happy to see a Kandinsky, it’s a bit of a stretch to see the Japanese romanticism in this early watercolor. He chose well deciding to go the avant-garde route.