Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Art nouveau and the influence of Japanese Ukiyo-e prints

     The topic about Art nouveau, an international decorative style, thrived during the two decades from 1890 to 1910 was really interesting for me.
     As you've already learnt from the previous chapters in Meggs' History of Graphic design, Europe has developed their own art style and manufactures in their early times. However as the time goes by, the international trading across continents and countries became more active and that influenced artists and their works each other. Also people became more interested in amusement and art, and needless to say, the demands of such as printing, advertisement, art books, graphics, and posters has increased from  mid 19th century. Moreover influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement leaded by William Morris, artists became more concentrated on not only surface appearance of the manufactures but also its materials, the making process, and value. Thus, I think each art works in this era classified such as art nouveau, modernism, and impressionism are sophisticated in many ways. One of the possible reason is the influence of Japanese Ukiyo-e.
     According to the Meggs' History of Graphic Design, it states that "Ukiyo-e means "pictures of the floating world" and defines an art movement of Japan's Tokugawa period (1603-1867)" (196.)
Since Japan was under the national seclusion, there were no influence from the outside countries except for approved Holland and China, thus they have developed their original and traditional art style. Ukiyo-e are made by the woodblock print and most of them are published with the style of emaki, which is the traditional picture scrolls, thus it has a realistic narrative tones. Hishikawa Moronobu, Katsushika Hokusai, and Ando Hiroshige are the famous Japanese Ukiyo-e artists still acknowledged up to today. Their use of colors, lines, texture and density in Ukiyo-e prints are highly evaluated by European artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Paul Gauguin and brought in their art works. It was Felix Bracquemond (, a French impressionist painter and etcher, who discovered the Hokusai's Ukiyo-e prints in Paris around 1856 and familiarized its traditional techniques. 

     Although it's good to have their own traditional art techniques and charm points, the influence from the other countries tradition give a birth to a new style of arts and I think this influence is really positive perspective for both of them. Today I really appreciate that we have such a great opportunity to be able to encounter the mixture of traditional arts. 

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