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Japanese painting modern history

Japanese painting modern history

Prewar period (1868-1945)

prewar japaneseThe prewar period was marked by the division of art into competing European styles and traditional indigenous styles.

During the Meiji period, Japan underwent a tremendous political and social change in the course of the Europeanization and modernization campaign organized by the Meiji government. Western style painting (Yōga) was officially promoted by the government, who sent promising young artists abroad for studies, and who hired foreign artists to come to Japan to establish an art curriculum at Japanese schools.

However, after an initial burst for western style art, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction, and led by art critic Okakura Kakuzo and educator Ernest Fenollosa, there was a revival of appreciation for traditional Japanese styles (Nihonga). In the 1880, western style art was banned from official exhibitions and was severely criticized by critics. Supported by Okakura and Fenollosa, the Nihonga style evolved with influences from the European pre-Raphaelite movement and European romanticism.

The Yōga style painters formed the Meiji Bijutsukai (Meiji Fine Arts Society) to hold its own exhibitions and to promote a renewed interest in western art. In 1907, with the establishment of the Bunten under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, both competing groups found mutual recognition and co-existence, and even began the process towards mutual synthesis.

The Taishō period saw the predominance of Yōga over Nihonga. After long stays in Europe, many artists (including Arishima Ikuma) returned to Japan under reign of Yoshihito, bringing with them the techniques of impressionism and early post-impressionism. The works of Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne and Pierre Auguste Renoir influenced early Taishō period paintings. However, yōga artists in the Taishō period also tended towards eclecticism, and there was a profusion of dissident artistic movements. These included the Fusain Society (Fyuzankai) which emphasized styles of post-impressionism, especially fauvism. In 1914, the Nikakai (Second Division Society) emerged to oppose the government-sponsored Bunten Exihibition.

Japanese painting during the Taishō period was only mildly influenced by other contemporary European movements, such as neoclassicism and late post-impressionism. Read the rest of this entry

Antoni Gaudí

Antoni Gaudí

gaudi Antoni

Architect
(1852 – 1926)

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet  (Riudoms or Reus, 25 June 1852 – Barcelona, 10 June 1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect and the best known representative of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works are marked by a highly individual style and the vast majority of them are situated in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, including his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família.

Much of Gaudí’s work was marked by the four passions of his life: architecture, nature, religion and his love for Catalonia. Gaudí meticulously studied every detail of his creations, integrating into his architecture a series of crafts, in which he himself was skilled, such as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry. He also introduced new techniques in the treatment of the materials, such as his famous trencadís, made of waste ceramic pieces.

After a few years under the influence of neo-Gothic art, and certain oriental tendencies, Antoni Gaudí became part of the Catalan Modernista movement which was then at its peak, towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Gaudí’s work, however, transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style that was inspired by nature without losing the influence of the experiences gained earlier in his career. Rarely did Gaudí draw detailed plans of his works and instead preferred to create them as three-dimensional scale models, moulding all details as he was conceiving them in his mind.

casa-batlloGaudí’s work has widespread international appeal, and there are innumerable studies devoted to his way of understanding architecture. Today he is admired by both professionals and the general public: his masterpiece, the Sagrada Família, is one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Between 1984 and 2005 seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. He awakened to his Roman Catholic faith during his life and many religious images can be seen in his works, a fact which has led to his being nicknamed “God’s Architect” and calls for him to bebeatified.

Gaudí’s first projects were the lampposts he designed for the Plaça Reial in Barcelona, the unfinished Girossi newsstands and the Cooperativa Obrera Mataronense (Workers’ Cooperative of Mataró). He became well known through his first important commission, the Casa Vicens, and subsequently received increasingly more significant requests. At the Paris World Fair in 1878 Gaudí displayed a showcase he had produced for the glove manufacturer Comella. Its modernista design, which was at the same time functional and aesthetic, impressed the Catalan industrialist Eusebi Güell, who later on contacted the architect to request him to carry out various projects he had in mind. This was the starting point of a long friendship and a patronage which bore fruit with some of the most distinguished of Gaudí’s works: the Güell wine cellars, the Güell pavilions, the Palau Güell (Güell palace), the Parc Güell (Güell park) and the crypt of the church of the Colònia Güell. He also became a friend of the marquis of Comillas, the father-in-law of count Güell, for whom he designed “El Capricho” in Comillas.

la Sagrada FamíliaIn 1883 Gaudí accepted responsibility for the recently-initiated works of the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, more commonly referred to in English as the Sagrada Família). Antoni Gaudí changed the original project completely, making this his world famous and much-admired masterpiece. From 1915 until his death he devoted himself entirely to this project. Given the number of commissions he began receiving, he had to rely on a professional team to be able to work on various projects simultaneously. His team consisted of professionals from all fields of construction. Several of the architects who worked under him made their own name in the field later on, such as Josep Maria Jujol, Joan Rubió, Cèsar Martinell, Francesc Folguera and Josep Francesc Ràfols. In 1885, Gaudí moved to rural Sant Feliu de Codines to escape thecholera epidemic that was ravaging Barcelona. He lived in Francesc Ullar’s house, for whom he designed a dinner table as a sign of his gratitude

During the Paris exposition in May 1910, Antoni Gaudí spent a holiday in Vic, where he designed two lampposts made of basalt and wrought iron for the Plaça Major of Vic, for Jaume Balmes’s centenary. The following year he was obliged to spend some time in Puigcerdà due to tuberculosis; during this time he conceived the idea for the façade of the Passion of the Sagrada Família. Due to his state of health, on 9 June he made his will at the office of the notary Ramon Cantó i Figueres; but luckily he recovered completely. Read the rest of this entry

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Zdizslaw BeksinskiZdzisław Beksiński (24 February 1929 – 21 February 2005) was a renowned Polish painter, photographer, and sculptor who is best known as a fantasy artist. Beksinski executed his paintings and drawings either in what he called a ‘Baroque’ or a ‘Gothic’ manner. The first style is dominated by representation, with the best-known examples coming from his ‘fantastic realism’ period when he painted disturbing images of a surrealistic, nightmarish environment. The second style is more abstract, being dominated by form, and is typified by Beksinski’s later paintings. Beksiński was murdered in 2005.

Beksinski was born in the town of Sanok, in southern Poland. After studying architecture in Kraków, he returned to Sanok in 1955. Subsequent to this education, he spent several years as aconstruction site supervisor, which he hated. At that time, he became interested in artistic photography and photomontage, sculpture and painting. He made his sculptures of plaster, metal and wire. His photography had several themes that would also appear in his future paintings, presenting wrinkled faces, landscapes and objects with a very bumpy texture, which he attempted to emphasize (especially by manipulating lights and shadows). His photography also depicted disturbing images, such as a mutilated baby doll with its face torn off, portraits of people without faces or with their faces wrapped in Read the rest of this entry