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James Whistler, Le Pont de Battersea, 1872-3
Pierre Bonnard Promenade des nourrices Frises des fiacres 1897
Ex-libris de Lautrec  pour Maurice Guibert c.1894
Alfred Stevens  La Parisienne 1872
Vincent van Gogh, Vue d´Arles avec vergers en fleur, 1890
James Whistler, Caprice en pourpre et or, Le paravent doré, 1864
Service Lambert Rousseau
Daum, La carpe
Marcus and Co, Broche Iris, 1900


From Plagiarism to Modernity

René Lalique, Boucle, 1897

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.

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