Ukiyo-e means the Japanese pictures of the “floating world.” Ukiyo-e is also known as the Japanese era of woodblock prints. Though the Japanese woodblock prints happened before the Art Nouveau movement in Europe, they influenced this movement.
The Japanese Ukiyo-e helped start the Art Nouveau movement and influenced many Art Nouveau artists with their artworks. Siegfried Bing, a French art dealer, imported many Japanese arts to Paris, including Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. He had an influential magazine that helped the exposure of Japanese art; this helped influence the art nouveau art movement.
Japanese, Ukiyo-e, Trade And Art Nouveau
Before 1853, Japan was closed to the world. This means that the Japanese Ukiyo-e movement was essentially a Japanese art movement during the Edo period in Japan.
The United States forced the opening of Japan to the western markets in 1853. The west started to become flooded with Japanese art and, in particular, the Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints from the 1700s and 1800s.
At the same time that Japan was opening to the west, and the west was becoming flooded with examples of the Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, the 19th century also saw a change in commercial retailing and the mass production of goods being produced to serve Europe’s growing urban populations.
One of these changes is that Art Nouveau started to become associated with luxury and was widely publicized to the masses with the expansion in advertising. A wide range of Art Nouveau products began to be marketed to the up-and-coming middle-class consumers who now had fashionable aspirations and newly acquired disposable incomes.
Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints And Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau was a decorative art style that flourished between 1890 and 1910 throughout Europe and America. Art Nouveau is characterized by long lines that would have many curves and turns.
Art Nouveau was an art form used in architecture, interior design, jewelry, glass, posters, and illustrations. The Art Nouveau movement was a deliberate attempt to create a new style.
Even though the Art Nouveau style was a deliberate new style, the artists were also heavily influenced by the linear patterns of Japanese woodblock prints from the Ukiyo-e era.
For example, Ivan Bilibin gained fame for his Russian and Slavis fairytales illustrations. In his print, “The Tale of The Golden Cockerel,” we can see influences from the Japanese woodblock prints. The colors, linear patterns, lines, and repeat patterns on the clothing are similar to what many Japanese woodblock print artists used.
In the famous Japanese woodblock print of Two Samurai fighting by Hokusai, you can see the substantial use of colors and repeated pattern on the clothing. In Ivan Bilibin’s work, we also see the repeat of the patterns in the clothing and other parts of the print.
Japanese Influences On European Art And Culture
With this expansion of Art Nouveau products in the second half of the 19th century also came a time when Japanese art and Ukiyo-e woodblock prints began to exert a significant influence on European art and culture. In short, Europe was fascinated with everything Japanese.
Daily Japanese products would arrive on the European shore, including porcelains, silks, fans, kimonos, and the famous Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints. So popular was this movement that the word was coined to show the Japanese influence on European culture known as Japonism.
You can read our blog about how Impressionism and the Influence of Japonisme by clicking here.
Siegfried Bing And Art Nouveau Influences
Siegfried Bing was a Hamburg-born businessman who became very influential in promoting Japanese art. Bing influenced the Art Nouveau movement.
From the 1870s onward, Bing ran an import business in Paris where he sold a lot of Japanese art, including many Ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
Bing also edited the influential monthly magazine called Le Japon Artistique. Many artists, including the Art Nouveau and Impressionism artists, came to him to get Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and other Japanese art to use as inspiration.
In 1895, Bing opened a gallery called L’Art Nouveau. The gallery L’Art Nouveau sold jewelry, paintings, ceramics, Stainglass, and furniture from designers.
He sold many designers’ works, including Louis Comfort Tiffany, Georges de Feure, Eduard Colonna, Emile Galle, and Eugene Galliard. From these artists and their works, you can see the influence of Japanese art, culture, and especially Ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
Here is a selection of Art Nouveau Artists and how they were influenced by Japanese Art, including Ukiyo-e woodblock prints:
Louis Comfort Tiffany – Dogwood (1902 -1915)
Louis Comfort Tiffany produced a stained glass window called Dogwood (1902-1915). The window composition shows Tiffany’s glass ability and admiration for Japanese art.
The window is asymmetrical and brilliantly shows the dogwood tree, including the branches and blossoms that are seen behind a trellis,
Tiffany shows us his love of Japan, Japanese art, and Art Nouveau and how they came from Europe to the shores of the United States.
Emile Galle’ – Flower Vase (1890)
Emile Galle’ was a French glass artist and founder of Ecole de Nancy, a major school of the Art Nouveau movement. Galle’ was influenced by nature and Japanese art, including all kinds of Japanese motifs, such as flowers.
Emile was an artist who had his glass factory in Nancy, France, where he employed over 300 people to help him produce his glass designs for mass production. Upon his death, his wife and sister-in-law continued to run the factory producing his works of art.
His Cameo glass, called a flower vase, is a one-piece that shows the Japanese influence, including the Ukiyo-e period of art on how he positioned the flower on the vase and what kind of flower he used.
George de Feure – Les Modes Cover, 1919
George de Feure was also influenced by Japanese art. His two elegant women’s design for the cover of the Les Modes, Christmas issue in 1919, clearly shows Japanese influence with the Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and Japanese motifs and art.
George de Fuere adopted the love of Japanese art while working for Siegfried Bing. He carried the influence of the Japanese woodblock prints and his love of Japanese art for most of his art. This cover for Les Modes clearly shows his passion and influence with Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
During this time in Europe and America, many artists were influenced by Japanese art. The Art Nouveau movement was a movement that sought a lot of inspiration from Japan; many of the art nouveau artists found inspiration in the Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock print artists.
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Characteristics of Japanese Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints
Japanese woodblock prints were produced to have a mass appeal to the Japanese audience. There are a lot of characteristics in the Japanese woodblock print, such as the asymmetry of design, how the artist experiment with composition, the artist’s use of flats spaces, and the use of colors.
By clicking here, you can learn more by reading Characteristics of Japanese Ukiyo-e Woodblock Printsach Other?.
What Are Some Japanese Woodblock Print Characteristics?
There are many characteristics of a Japanese woodblock print, from the woodblock print title, artist name, and publisher’s seal; other features also include the color and subject matter. Japanese woodblock prints also have different artistic art movements.
By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Are Some Japanese Woodblock Print Characteristics?.
What Is A Japanese Woodblock Print?
A Japanese woodblock print is, as the name implies, a print that is made by using carved woodblock and applying ink on the woodblocks to print a design on paper. The Japanese woodblock artists used the woodblocks to print artistic prints and even books. Artists have used the woodblock print technique in Japan for hundreds of years.
You can learn more by reading What Is A Japanese Woodblock Print? by clicking here.