Japan-Japonism-inspired objects, 1867-2018
Monday 28 January 2019: Japan-Japonism-inspired objects, 1867-2018, visit-conference of the exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts.
The exhibition highlights the role played by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the dissemination and knowledge of the Japanese decorative arts. Since its founding in 1864, MAD has been a pioneer in the preservation and presentation of Japanese art. The exhibition is organized around five themes: discovery, nature, time, movement and innovation. The presentation of Japanese objects is compared to the creations of French Japonisme.
The discovery begins with the opening of Japan in 1868, during the Meiji Restoration. This will facilitate contacts and Japan will participate in major World Expos, thus promoting the knowledge and transmission of its culture. It is also the time when some collectors like Henri Cernuschi (1821-1896), Emile Guimet (1836-1918) or Siegfried Bing (1838-1905) bring back prints and objects of their travels and participate in the diffusion of this art. In a few years, Japanism will seize European decorative arts. Artists like Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), Eugene Grasset (1845-1917), Emile Gallé (1846-1901) or Louis Majorelle (1859-1926) will draw their inspiration from this new repertoire. It is the same for the revival of sandstone which, until then, were not appreciated, the customers preferring porcelain. It should be noted, however, that Japan will manufacture items for export to flatter the European taste.
Nature, which is at the heart of Japanese art will be a new source of inspiration for artists, artisans and industrial French from the 1860 years. The motifs of plants (bamboos, iris, chrysanthemums, wisteria, etc.) and animals (birds, crustaceans or insects) are reinterpreted and adapted to the European taste in all areas (furniture, textiles, objects, posters). Japaneseism will evolve however since Art Nouveau and Art Deco will geometrize themes.
Time, which is a favorite subject in Japan with the declination of seasons, also plays a vital role in rituals. Europeans are fascinated by the perfection of Japanese objects but do not always understand their deep meaning. The everyday objects used for the tea ceremony, the incense ceremony or calligraphy are collected but often diverted from their original function. An example: the fabrics fukusa that are used in Japan to cover a gift are framed and hung on the walls of bourgeois apartments in the West.
The movement is first of all illustrated by the movement but also by the ability of Japanese artists to capture the moment, whether in theatrical prints or in the art of the school. Rinpa. The flight of cranes, the movements of waves or fish, captured as in a photographic snapshot are admired and taken up by European artists. The movement is also reflected by the trade between France and Japan which started at 17e s. and continue to the present day.
Innovation is evoked through the traditional Japanese technical processes that inspired Western designers and pushed them to use new materials and techniques in the fields of ceramics, lacquer, alloys and metallic patinas, but also to consider another way of staging a setting. Fashion is invoked with creators like Paul Poiret, Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe, Rei Kawakubo and John Galliano.
The mutual influences between France and Japan and the exchanges between these two countries take many forms that are constantly renewed.