LOOKING EAST Exhibition to Highlight Japanese Influence on Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh, 1/31-5/11
Looking East is organized into five segments, starting with an introductory section, followed by the themes of city life, women, nature and landscape. For each thematic subject, Japanese objects are paired with American or European works to represent a particular stylistic or technical influence. For example, regarding landscapes, "Instead of using shadows to create convincing three-dimensional forms, the Japanese employed contrasts in color, the repetition of shapes, and a focus on essential features to animate views of such iconic sites as Mount Fuji," says Ms. Kennedy. "A number of these pictorial devices became part of the Western repertoire."
Signaling their own cosmopolitanism, Western artists staged their compositions with elegant oriental props; Japanese fans, kimonos, lanterns, screens, umbrellas, and vases, for example, are especially common in French paintings. "The French Impressionist Claude Monet looked to his collection of more than 200 Japanese prints as a source of inspiration, and even based the gardens at his country home in Giverny, France on ukiyo-e landscapes," explains Ms. Kennedy. Characteristic Japanese flora and fauna motifs such as chrysanthemums and butterflies are also incorporated in Western decorative arts as seen in this exhibition's elaborately decorated inkstand (1876) by the French designer Paul Legrand. The japonisme influence even extended to architecture, furniture design and book illustrations, examples of which are also on view in this exhibition.