From Plagiarism to Modernity
Are Paul Gauguin's lack of modelling, Edgar Degas's offbeat framing and Vincent van Gogh's pencil strokes the sole expression of modern genius? Or are they the result of the wholesale looting of Japanese art?
In 1854, American cannons forced Japan to open up, leading to the fall of the shogunate in 1868. A page in Japanese history was turned, and Japan shed its medieval artefacts, much to the delight of Westerners who loved these Japoneries.
The first and second parts of the lecture highlight the similarities between European decorative arts of the Fin de siècle and Japanese art. The third and fourth part analyse the Japonism of Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
This lecture systematically identifies the borrowings of the European avant-garde from the Japanese, in effect revisiting the myth of originality that the modernist genesis had constructed.