10 November 2009

The Floating World: Japonism in the West


Western Japonism began in the mid-nineteenth century with the French passion for Japanese art. Especially popular were the Ukiyo-e or "pictures of the floating world" woodblocks depicting an ethereal world of beauty. Many European and British artists became influenced by the ephemeral landscapes and scenes of entertainment including the ex-patriot American artist James McNeill Whistler.

Kitagawa Utamaro known for his Bijinga, studies of beautiful women, Katsushika Hokusai with his iconic depictions of Mount Fiji, and Utagawa Hiroshige's bold colors were particularly admired. Their works were collected by many of the Impressionists, and would eventually inspire Art Nouveau and Cubism. Japonism also extended to the decorative arts of furniture and textile design.

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