Japanese Connections: The Birth of Modern Décor

Japanese Connections: The Birth of Modern DécorAbu Dhabi, UAE— ‘Japanese Connections: The Birth of Modern Décor’, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s first exhibition for the 2018 autumn season, will open on 6 September with a display of 19th and 20th century paintings, prints and folding screens that highlight the artistic and cultural dialogue between Japan and France, and the important influence of the colourful ukiyo-e aesthetics on modern decorative arts.

Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: “Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ethos celebrates cultural connection, dialogue and exchange, and this approach is intrinsic to our curation throughout the permanent galleries and international exhibitions. ‘Japanese Connections’ will shine a light on one significant moment of exchange and inspiration; these moments open our eyes to the interconnected history of human societies, nurturing shared understanding.”

In 1853, Japan’s trade opened to the West for the first time in 220 years, giving rise to a deep fascination with Far Eastern aesthetics that lasted in Europe for fifty years. In particular, woodblock prints and paintings in the iconic ukiyo-e style influenced some of Europe’s most renowned painters.

‘Japanese Connections’ will present 41 artworks and 15 documents by 12 artists, including French artists Paul Sérusier, Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Édouard Vuillard who made up the renowned Nabis group of artists; Marguerite Sérusier and Odilon Redon; and five Japanese ukiyo-e masters: Katsushika Hokusai, Hara Zaimei, Utagawa Hiroshige, Kano Tanshin and Toshusai Sharaku.

Isabelle Cahn, General Curator of Paintings at Paris’s Musée d’Orsay and Curator of ‘Japanese Connections’, said: “By bringing this exceptional selection of works together, ‘Japanese Connections’ traces the fundamental contribution of Japanese aesthetics to the development of decorative principles of modern painting in France at the end of the 19th century. Presented for the first time in an exhibition, this dialogue between East and West celebrates creativity and cross-cultural inspiration between the Ukiyo-e artists and the Nabis painters through a coloured, vibrant and refined expression.”

The exhibition will be divided into four sections that illustrate the influence of central ukiyo-e aesthetic principles, including representing the world in two-dimensions without using illusions of perspective; narrative compositions that show the passing of time; innovative use of folding panels for storytelling; and symbolic refinement exploring intellectual, dreamlike and spiritual ideas.

‘Japanese Connections’ will present 10 prints and three screens from Japan in dialogue with 24 paintings and three screens from France. The Japanese works include South Wind, Clear Sky from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (1831-32) andYôrô Waterfall in Mino Province (1830-1834) by Katsushika Hokusai, the most renowned ukiyo-e master; Utagawa Hiroshige’s Tôto Sumida tsutumi (1858); and a six-leaved screen depicting a Cherry Tree in Blossom on a Plain Gold Ground by Hara Zaimei.

Édouard Vuillard’s Public Gardens (1894), Pierre Bonnard’s folding screen Nannies Promenade, Frieze of Carriages (1897); Paul Sérusier’s Women at the Spring (1899) and The Field of Corn and Buckwheat (1900); a series of decorative panels by Odilon Redon; and Rolling Landscape (1900), a four-leaf screen by Marguerite Sérusier, are among the French pieces.

The works have been assembled from the collections of Louvre Abu Dhabi, Musée d’Orsay, Musée national des Arts asiatiques – Guimet and Musée des Arts Décoratifs (MAD).

The exhibition will be accompanied by public programming celebrating the arts and culture of Japan, including curatorial talks and a ‘Big in Japan’ festival on October 26 and 27, which will feature DJs, spoken word poetry, screenings of Studio Ghibli anime films and Japanese cooking classes.

The Manga Lab, a creative and experimental space for teenagers and young adults will offer a variety of entertaining experiences to explore contemporary Japanese culture, including virtual reality, retro arcade gaming, a graffiti and expression wall, a chill-out reading area, and a series of masterclasses and workshops about Manga and graphic art. Located in Louvre Abu Dhabi’s forum.

‘Japanese Connections’ will be on display from 6 September until 24 November, with tickets included in entrance to Louvre Abu Dhabi.


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