Friday, September 11, 2009

European Influence on Modern Japanese Artists?

   Ando Hiroshige             Vincent van Gogh
"Ohashi Bridge in the Rain

With the trading of goods and supplies between the Europeans and Japanese, Europeans and Americans became fascinated by Japanese art and culture.  Many European artists started collecting large quantities of Japanese prints.  These prints were full of brilliant color, asymmetrical compositions, unorthodox points of view, and images of everyday life.  Western style of art at this time, the mid to late 1800's, consisted of more classical and academic tradition.  The founders of early modernism in the West were influenced by Japanese art and many of these Western artists were Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.  

With the Western ideas of art concentrating more towards the classical and academic traditions, and more recognizable throughout the world, one would think the Japanese style of art would start to concentrate more towards the more academic style. But on the contrary, Japanese art influenced Impressionists and Post-Impressionists of the Western world.  For example, Vincent van Gogh, studied the Japanese prints and started to make copies of them, but he changed the style of painting to have more of a Western style.  His brush strokes were more noticeable throughout his paintings rather than the blending of color and values by the Japanese painters.  The Japanese artists started to use oil paint, but rather than using the more academic style, their style consisted of using the oil paint to almost sketch out the figures and background.  Their brush strokes were more noticeable and incorporated the Impressionists technique.  

There are some similarities and differences between the era of modern paintings between Western and Eastern cultures.  Both Western and Eastern painters are influenced by the other.  Western painters started painting with less of an academic structure and with more brilliant colors, while Eastern painters used oil painting but used it more in a sense of sketching or drawing rather than blending of colors.  Rather than one culture influencing the other, both played significant roles in the modern ideas of painting.  

Reference:  "Art Beyond the West" by Michael Kampen O'Riley, second edition

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