Japonisme

DEFINITION

A French term used frequently in western culture to refer to the influence on western art of Japanese arts and crafts, especially during the latter part of the 19th Century. This influence was especially notable after the 1850s when trade routes flourished between the East and West because of the 'opening with Japan' by Commodore Perry. "Japonisme" is used to describe porcelain, fans, lacquerware and prints, scrolls, woodblock prints, paintings etc. The reason the common western word to describe such items is French is that the Parisiens were the most avid admirers and collectors of objects influenced by "Japonisme". In painting, Claude Monet did a portrait of his wife in a kimono; James McNeill Whistler, emulating the Japanese, adapted a butterfly signature for his paintings. Vincent Van Gogh said: "Japanese art---we all had that in common." Public reception was high for "Japonisme" in the mid 1800s because academic art was seeming tiresome to many persons, and modernist art trends were just entering the art scene. Japanese art combined both formal and somewhat abstract qualities, and seemed much refreshing in a period open to aesthetic exploration. Source: Robert Atkins, ART SPOKE

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