April 16–October 12, 2008
Japonisme in American Graphic Art, 1880–1920 explores the myriad manifestations of Japonisme in a selection of rarely seen American works on paper from the Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection. Concurrent with the so-called “Japan craze” in America was a renewed interest in graphic arts: as watercolor, pastel, etching, and other graphic media came to be appreciated for their artistry and expressivity, they also reflected the impact of Japanese art. Color woodcuts by late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century masters such Hiroshige, Hokusai, and Kuniyoshi were avidly collected in the West and served as particularly influential models of stylistic and technical innovation for American artists. (Examples of such prints are on view in the special exhibition Utagawa: Masters of the Japanese Print, 1770–1900, through June 15, 2008, and in the online exhibition Hiroshige’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo.)
Inspired by their encounters with the arts of Japan, the artists featured in Japonisme in American Graphic Art, 1880–1920 adopted Japanese subjects and design elements, embraced Eastern aesthetic principles, and sometimes even traveled to Japan to study its cultural traditions firsthand. Their resulting works demonstrate the variety and breadth of Japanese influence on American graphic arts at the turn of the twentieth century.
Japonisme in American Graphic Art, 1880–1920 was organized by Karen A. Sherry, Assistant Curator of American Art.