INFLUENCES - INTRODUCTION
Japanese paintings and prints are aesthetic, complex, and
expressive works of art. The
school of art best known in the West is the Ukiyo-e paintings and
woodblock prints of the demimonde, the world of the kabuki theater
and the brothel district.
Ukiyo-e means pictures of the Floating World, and it is defined
as variations on the theme of life as a transient experience.
It was developed in the Edo period (1615-1868) of Japanese
history. Almost all of the Western Impressionist painters, including
Manet, Monet, Degas, Mary Cassatt, van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec,
were influenced by this genre of Japanese art.
Waggon-wheel on the beach at Takanawa from one hundred views of Edo,
the 19th century the most famous Japanese artist was Ando Hiroshige
(1797-1858), painter and printmaker who changed everyday landscapes
into intimate, lyrical scenes.
The strange angles and shapes through which he viewed landscape
influenced Impressionist artists.
career falls roughly into three periods. From 1811 to about 1830
he made prints of traditional subject matter such as young women
and actors. For the next 15 years he was known as
a landscape artist, reaching a peak of success and achievement
in 1833 when his masterpiece Fifty-three
Stations of the Tokaido was published.
He maintained this high level of craftmanship in other
travel series such as Celebrated
Places in Japan and Sixty-nine
Stations on the Kiso Highway. The work he did during the last
years of his life (which was the third period) is sometimes of
lesser quality. The artist seems to have hurriedly met
the demands of popularity.
The Great Wave Off Kanagawa from Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji, 1823-31
Hokusai (1760-1849), was a Japanese painter and wood engraver. He is considered another outstanding
figures of the Ukiyo-e, school of printmaking besides Hiroshige.
Hokusai is generally more appreciated by the Westerners than Japanese.
His prints were enthusiastically collected by Impressionists. Hokusai's
classic wood-block prints, silkscreens, and landscape paintings
were produced between 1830 and 1840. The free curved lines which
were characteristic of his artistic style gave the utmost freedom
and grace to his art. His best-known works included the 13-volume
sketchbook Hokusai Manga
(begun 1814) and the series of block
prints Thirty-Six Views of
Mount Fuji (circa 1826-33).
Women Making and Selling Prints,
Ukiyo-e artist who also had a profound impact on the Impressionists
was Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806). His subject matter was mainly
about court ladies and women of the amusement district of Edo. With
emphasis on flat planes and strong linear outlines, Utamaro portrayed
the ideals of feminine charm in all their aspects. He is best known
for the grace and elegance of his designs, for his delicate handling
of character and mood, and for his skillful execution of the woodblock
technique. His famous prints included A Mother Bathing Her Son and Women Making and Selling Print.