Japonisme in Czech Art
Exhibition concept: Markéta Hánová
Curators: Jana Ryndová and Markéta Hánová
Accompanying programme: Education Department of the Collection of Oriental Art
Venue: Salm Palace, Hradčanské náměstí 2, Praha 1
Date: May 16 – September 7, 2014
The National Gallery in Prague’s Collection of Oriental Art presents a unique survey of Czech art inspired by Japanese culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Markéta Hánová, the author of the exhibition, has assembled a representative collection of works by artists of Czech and German origin, who were active in the Czech lands and abroad, drawing inspiration from Japanese art that enhanced their own creative pursuits. The exhibition entitled “Japonisme in Czech Art” opens on May 16, 2014 at Salm Palace on Prague’s Hradčanské náměstí, where visitors can admire the works of Vojtěch Hynais, Alphonse Mucha, Emil Orlik, Vojtěch Preissig, Bohumil Kubišta, Otto Gutfreund, and others.
In scholarly literature, the term “Japonisme” (or “Japonism”) denotes the influence of Japanese aesthetics and art on Western culture and its assimilating tendencies from the second half of the 19th century onward. The exotic world of fantasy Japan stimulated artistic, social and literary imagination that turned into a vogue and a way of life. Japanese inspiration was reflected not only in painting and sculpture, but also in illustration, poster art and the decorative arts. In the mid-19th century,Japan renewed its commercial and political contacts with Western countries, with a new wave of Japanese art imports sweeping throughEurope. Art objects fromJapanwere distinguished by a high level of craftsmanship and a distinctive artistic expression, which gradually brought about a craze for collecting Japanese art that culminated at the turn of the century. Japanese art had a profound impact on the development of the fine arts in Europe. Initially, Japonisme was enthusiastically embraced in France from where it soon flooded all of Europe.
Japonisme in Czech Art explores Japonaiseries that emulated original Japanese objects (on view in this exhibition alongside the imitative art, in recognition of the art collecting tradition in the Czech lands), while also examining new examples of Czech modern art inspired by Japanese art, with echoes of the Japanese artistic idiom (such as composition, formal simplicity and decorativeness). The exhibition reflects artists’ diverse notions related to Japanese art and culture, but also their actual journeys to real Japan. In the context of Czech art, Japonisme developed on various, contrasting levels: as reflections of Japanese craftsmanship and the art’s decorative vocabulary, as individual creative achievements, and as an art form that inspired a culturally-varied art community characterized by linguistic and national diversity. At first, artists strove to imitate original works with the intention of improving the aesthetic and formal qualities of art objects and to evoke the exotic aura of Japan (these endeavours are referred to as Japonaiseries). In the Czech lands, the phenomenon of Japonisme came to the forefront only with the onset of the Art Nouveau movement in the 1890s.
The exhibition is divided into six chapters that illustrate Japonisme in Czech art from the mid-1890s to the early 1930s. Its development was affected by a certain tension between straightforward reproductive imitation of Japanese art and artistic creativity in its own right. The individual sections are accompanied by an overview of major exhibitions, distinguished collectors of Japanese art, Japonaiserie in literature and period photographs. We are pleased to note that due to its fusion with other art movements of the Fin de Siècle, Japonisme took on such a wealth of creative expressions in the very heart of Europe.
The exhibition is held to celebrate the “Visegrad Four Plus Japan Exchange Year” (2014). Apart from an illustrated guide, the NG Publishing House has issued Japonisme in Czech Art, which is an expanded version of the first edition of the book entitled Japonisme in the Fine Arts of the Czech Lands (NG Praha 2010).
The exhibition is accompanied by educational programmes, such as lectures on the exhibition for individuals and groups (schools), guided tours and thematic art workshops.
Exhibition partner: Embassy of Japan in the Czech Republic
Main sponsor: Toshiba
NG’s main media partner: Česká televize
NG’s media partners: Český rozhlas, Prague Events Calendar, Anopress IT, Classic FM, Aktuálně, Ekonom
NG’s partner: Railreklam
NG’s technical partner: Samsung
Admission to the exhibition:
Basic 100 CZK
Discount 50 CZK
Family 150 CZK
Press release from May 15, 2014
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