Japonisme By Rottau, Nadine
The term Japonisme refers to the reception of Japanese art products and stylistic forms in Europe and the United States beginning in the second half of the 19th century and continuing until the early 20th century. Japonisme involves the collecting of Japanese products by Western artists and art lovers as well as the adaptation of East Asian motifs and forms for the creation of pictures and objects.
Paris was the center of early Japonisme; the first collectors were art critics such as Ernest Chesneau or Philippe Burty. The painters Edouard Manet and James Abbott McNeill Whistler were early enthusiasts of Japanese arts and crafts. The opening up of new possibilities for representation, mediated by Japanese color woodcuts from artists such as Utagawa (Andō) Hiroshige, had a profound effect on artistic schools ranging from Impressionism to Expressionism. Not only the means of Japanese design, but also the egality of the represented subjects, the equal treatment of nature, animals and human beings, of high art and handicraft, helped Western artists to overcome their academic traditions. Japonisme as an artistic and visual movement undertook a trans-cultural appropriation of the Japanese stylistic language, which contributed to the breakthrough of modern art in the West.