In 1854 after the United States accomplished opening up Japan to trade with the west, the French art world became fascinated by Japanese art, especially the impressionists. By 1872 the impact on French and European art had become important enough that a term, Japonism, was coined to explain it.
The influence of Japanese art on the west shows itself in different ways. Japanese wood-block prints, screens, and kimonos are incorporated into some of the impressionist paintings. Spare lines, large eyes, and poses typical of those found in Japanese wood block art can be seen in other impressionist paintings.
One of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous self portraits shows a Japanese block print on the wall behind the artist. In Eduard Manet’s portrait of Emil Zola, a Japanese block print appears in a collage handing on the wall above the writer’s desk. In another painting, properly dressed European women are depicted carefully inspecting a Japanese silk screen.
Perhaps the most dramatic of all the Japan-inspired paintings of the period is George Hendrik Breiten’s ‘Girl in a Red Kimono’ in which the gorgeously patterned kimono takes up fully two-thirds of the painting. This is one of twelve girl in kimono paintings that he did, in either a red or white kimono, always the same young girl, and always an expanse of beautifully patterned silk.
La Vie Rustic now has its own small share of Japonism. Sharon Spain’s intricate hand silk-screenings reflect the Japonism style, with intricate patterns of simple lines. The photos here simply cannot do justice to the beauty of the pattern and shimmering colors of her rose-pink flowers on Duponi silk that she has made into shams. They are art for la maison, a pleasure to look at, to touch, and to use. Sharon is an Oakland-based textile artist and a long-time friend. She is also the coordinator/curator for Recology San Francisco’s Artist in Residence Program.
To buy your own bit of Japonism, visit La Vie Rustic.com.
While you are there, take a look at Thomas Kuoh’s new photos of our products.
You will be inspired to head right to the kitchen and start cooking or out to the garden to plant.
Sel de Figue and French Heirloom Lettuce Seeds at lavierustic.com