LOOKING EAST Exhibition to Highlight Japanese Influence on Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh, 1/31-5/11

LOOKING EAST Exhibition to Highlight Japanese Influence on Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh, 1/31-5/11

Looking East: Western Artists and the Allure of Japan, on view in the Frist Center for the Visual Arts' Ingram Gallery from January 31 through May 11, 2014, celebrates the cultural and aesthetic influences of Japanese art and culture on the Western imagination in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Premiering at the Frist Center, this traveling exhibition reveals aspects of the fruitful exchange by presenting works and objects by influential Japanese artists alongside those of Western luminaries such as Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, John La Farge, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Alfred Stieglitz, Vincent van Gogh, Frank Lloyd Wright among many others.

Visitors to the Frist Center already fond of Impressionist
and Post-Impressionist masterpieces such as Postman Joseph Roulin (1888) by Van Gogh and Under the Horse-Chestnut Tree (1895) by Cassatt may be surprised by their direct connections to Japan highlighted in this exhibition. "There have only been a few exhibitions on this subject and it is exciting for the Frist Center to be the first venue for this one," says Frist Center Curator Trinita Kennedy. "Because of the presence of Japanese companies, Nashville is the perfect place to celebrate this important moment of artistic exchange between East and West." The exhibition, which will coincide with the city's Cherry Blossom Festival, will later be seen throughout Japan and then at the Musee National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec and San Francisco's Asian Art Museum.

Drawn from and organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston-world renowned for their Japanese, American, and European collections of this period-Looking East consists of more than 170 objects, including arms and armor, decorative arts, paintings, prints and drawings, and textiles.

When Japan opened its ports to international trade in the 1850s and emerged from centuries of self-imposed isolation, a craze for all things Japanese set in among European and North American collectors, artists and designers. The phenomenon, dubbed japonisme by the Parisian critic Philippe Burty in 1872, created a radical shift in Western tastes toward Japanese aesthetic principles, and is evident in major movements including Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Art Nouveau. Many Western artists first learned about Japanese aesthetics through color woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e, or 'pictures of the floating world' that typically depicted scenes from Kabuki theater, red-light districts and other fashionable and fleeting pleasures. "Artists were eager to demonstrate their curiosity about the wider world and Japan was particularly appealing," says Ms. Kennedy. "Everything about Japan-from the way people dressed and ate and how artists looked at the world-would have been novel to Western artists."