Murray Griffin, 'Magpies', 1932

The world of art changed forever when Japan opened its borders to international trade in 1854 and the results of this exchange will be on show at NGV International from the 25 May to 28 October 2018.

The influx of Japanese artworks into Europe triggered an artistic revolution known as Japonisme, that helped to lay the foundations of Western modern art.

Japonisme: Japan and the Birth of Modern Art is the resulting genre that emerged and takes centre stage in NGV’s exhibition by the same name opening today.

Featuring a collection full of Western decorative arts, the display has works on paper, paintings, fashion and textiles, photography as well as Japanese art, all highlighting the iconic art that emerged.

NGV Director, Tony Ellwood, says the era proved pivotalto the art world. ‘The fervor for Japanese art and design in Europe and America, a phenomenon known as Japonisme, forever changed art and design in the West and had a major impact on the practices of artists of the day, including Vincent Van Gogh. This exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to explore this period in history and appreciate the influential legacy of Japanese visual culture around the world.’

The exhibition looks at the Japanese reverence for the natural world and the ways this theme was transposed into European art. It showcases a range of decorative arts that show these key Japanese themes, including flora, fauna and the landscape. Such objects mimic a Japanese regard for organic forms, vibrant colours and sensual textures derived from nature.

The exhibition includes Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Divan Japonais poster, examples from the 1866 Bracquemond-Rousseau dinner service, and a sinuous Art Nouveau display cabinet designed by Louise Majorelle, showcasing the influence of Japanese aesthetics on French furniture.

Another highlight of the exhibition is the influence Japanese art and design principles had on British Aestheticism, a movement championed by the likes of architect and designer Edward William Godwin, artist James McNeill Whistler and critic Oscar Wilde.

Full of European and Japanese artworks and objects influenced by a key moment in art, see it at the National Gallery of Victoria til the 28th of October.


Japonisme: Japan and the Birth of Modern Art

Location: NGV International – 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Dats: 25 May - 28 October 2018

Times: 10 - 5pm daily

NGV Website

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