Japanese To Japonesque Talk 3 Notes

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Created in February 2010 for the Smithsonian-Corcoran M.A. Program in the History of Decorative Arts, this lecture shows how wallpaper design in England and the United States in the late 19th century was transformed by ideas from Japan. Comparisons with Japanese material and Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts designs illustrate what attracted the most influential innovators, and shows how the assimilation process ultimately shed specifically Japanese references, leaving in place the principles now recognized as the basis for modern taste.

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Japanese To Japonesque Talk 3 Notes

  1. 1. I
jumped
when
asked
for
this
lecture.
Though
my
book,
The
Influence
of
Japanese
Art
 on
Design,
only
touched
upon
wallpaper,
I
knew
it
was
a
topic
reflecting
every
 concern
about
domesticity
in
the
Gilded
Age.
My
mind
flew
to
home
as
nurturing
 refuge
and
wellspring
of
moral
uplift,

beauty
and
aesthetics
in
the
age
of
 industrialization,
new
commercialism,
internationalism,
visions
of
“modern,
etc.,
etc. —all
brought
into
sharp
relief
by
the
unique
and
very
variable
role
that
Japan
played
 in
these
things.
An
immensely
fascinating
story.
Putting
it
all
together
is
the
 proverbial
Gordian
Knot—I
realized,
another
book!
In
two
hours,
I
can
only
shut
my
 eyes,
dive
in
and
keep
my
goals
a
lot
more
modest:
a
little
context,
a
few
important
 points,
a
fairly
organized
sense
of
a
process
that
lacked
a
single
straight
sequence
 anywhere,
and
hopefully
to
hone
your
eye
in
a
way
that
will
prime
your
later
 encounters,
and
to
see
and
think
out
of
the
box.

 To
begin:
Japanese
influence
on
wallpapers
originates
in
an
extended
moment
of
 international
frenzy
that
began
in
the
late
1850’s,
peaked
in
1872,
when
it
was
 simultaneously
dubbed
“Japonisme”
in
France
and
the
“Japan
Craze”
in
England,
 crested
in
Europe
by
the
1880’s,
but
burned
brightly
in
the
US
for
another
two
 decades.
What
does
a
“craze”
look
like?
 1

  2. 2. It
meant
ordinary
girls,
prostitutes
and
artists’
models,
America’s
society
daughters,
 Monet’s
French
wife,
Whistler’s
English
girlfriend,
women
everywhere
delighting
in
 geisha
fantasies,
for
portraits,
tea
parties
and
even

church
sociables.
It
meant
that
 few
saw
as
odd
British
Actress
Lily
Langtree
advertising
American
Eagle
Tobacco
in
 Japanese
garb.
Langtry
was
portraying
not
just
any
Japanese
lady,
but
a
make‐believe
 princess:
YumYum,
heroine
of
the
Mikado,
the
daffy
operetta
that
took
England
and
 America
by
storm
in
1883
and
ran
continuously
for
a
century.
When
you
get
that
kind
 of
ad
hoc
mixing,
you
are
seeing
a
process
of
assimilation.

 2

  3. 3. “Japan
Craze”
meant
that
creative
and
not‐so
creative
minds
sought
that
“Japanese
 effect.”
The
nonsense
of
the
Mikado,
the
scores
of
now‐forgotten
musicals,
dramas
 and
shows
it
inspired—in
which
real
Japanese
themselves
as
often
as
not
participated —was
only
the
entertainment
side
of
a
fascination
that
appeared
equally
 nonsensically
throughout
society
 3

  4. 4. “Japan”
could
make
your

coffee
and
marshmallows
tastier,
your
toiletries
smell
 better,
your
skin
softer,
your
make‐up
more
perfect,
your
walls
prettier
and
even
your
 pet
fish
happier.
It
was
all
unreal.
But
did
that
matter???
So
on
the
one
hand,
the
 wallpapers
we
are
about
to
see
are
at
home
in
just
such
a
world
of
budding
 commercialism,
graphic
experimentation
and
fantasy.
 4

  5. 5. One
person—only
one—truly
understood
this
phenomenon:
the
era’s
most
astute
 commentator
and
muse
of
the
Japan
Craze
whose
flamboyant
person
bespoke
the
 age,
The
Apostle
of
Aestheticism:
Oscar
Wilde.
with
typical
flair
he
captured
the
spirit
 of
Japanese
art—and
what
the
most
imaginative
Westerners
did
with
it:

 
 No
great
artist
ever
sees
things
as
they
really
are.
If
he
did,
he
would
cease
to
 be
an
artist…
do
you
really
imagine
that
the
Japanese
people
as
they
are
presented
to
 us
in
art
have
any
existence?
If
you
do,
you
have
never
understood
Japanese
art
at
all.
 They
are
the
deliberate
self
conscious
creation
of
certain
individual
artists.
If
you
see
 a
picture
by
any
of
the
great
native
painters
beside
a
real
Japanese
gentleman
or
lady,
 you
will
see
there
is
not
the
slightest
resemblance
between
them.
The
actual
people
of
 Japan
are
not
unlike
the
general
run
of
English,
that
is
to
say,
they
are
extremely
 commonplace
and
have
nothing
curious
or
extraordinary
about
them.
In
fact,
the
 whole
of
Japan
is
a
pure
invention.
There
is
no
such
country,
there
are
no
such
 people…the
Japanese
people
are…simply
a
mode
of
style,
an
exquisite
fancy
of
art.
 And
so,
if
you
desire
to
see
a
Japanese
effect,
you
will
not
behave
like
a
tourist
and
go
 to
Tokyo…you
will
stay
home
and
steep
yourself
in
the
work
of
certain
Japanese
 artists,
and
then,
when
you
have
absorbed
the
spirit
of
their
style
and
caught
their
 imaginative
manner
of
vision,
you
will
go
some
afternoon
and
sit
in
the
park
or
stroll
 down
Piccadilly,
and
if
you
cannot
see
an
absolutely
Japanese
effect
there,
you
will
 not
see
it
anywhere.
 5

  6. 6. That,
in
a
nutshell
is
the
standard
way
of
viewing
wallpapers
like
this
unidentified
 frieze—its
“Japanese
effect”
of
random
pinwheels
tumbling
through
floral
sprigs
 against
a
flat
ground.
But,
Craze
notwithstanding,
it
is
too
glib
to
emphasize,
as
is
 typical,
that
this
look
was
merely
vogue.
Rather,
as
Wilde’s
words
hint,
it
reflects
a
 pervasive
experimentation
underway,
spawned
by
the
conviction
of
the
most
 influential
and
thoughtful
of
the
Victorian
creative
world,
that
Japanese
design
 offered
resolutions
to
their
most
major
dilemmas.
This
is
a
profound
kind
of
 borrowing.
It
introduced
design
principles
we
still
follow,
so
what
made
Japonesque
 designs
“Japonesque”
is
best
understood
as
an
early
groping
toward
a
modern
 language
of
design
appropriate
for
a
modern
world.
Japanese
influence
has
had
long
 reach,
and
its
apparent
invisibility
now
is
a
measure
of
its
importance.
Wallpapers
are
 telling
examples
of
this.
These
are
the
issues
I
want
to
frame
this
presentation
today,
 to
leave
you
poised
to
reconsider
the
design
movements
that
succeeded
the
 apparent
end
of
the
Craze
itself.
 Firstly,
there
are
factors
to
consider
about
Japan,
the
nature
of
its
links
to
the
west
 and
avenues
of
influence:
 6

  7. 7. “Japonesque”
is
nothing
“Japanese.”
More
nuanced
with
their
walls
than
in
the
 Victorian
West,
Japan
linked
their
decoration
with
interior
function
and
even
personal
 roles.
The
ivied
walls
of
this
17th
century
imperial
retreat
evoke
literary
associations
 and
princely
contemplation;
Seated
beneath
the
arching
pine
in
a
golden
landscape
 transformed
a
shogun
into
a
man
endowed
by
the
forces
of
nature—the
pictorial
 trope
of
Confucian
superiority
 In
the
era
of
the
Japan
Craze,
Japan
was
extricating
itself
from
these
traditions
to
 transform
itself
into
a
modern
nation.
It
did
not
want
to
emphasize
its
defunct
recent
 past.
Even
if
enthralled
by
their
romance,
few
of
the
very
few
Westerners
who
might
 have
seen
such
interiors
comprehended
them.
It
would
have
made
little
difference
 anyway,
for
the
values
they
represented
were
too
alien
despite
the
adaptability
of
 their
wall
designs.
For
all
its
borrowings,
Japanese
influence
is
distinct
to
itself,
a
child
 of
Western
fantasy
on
one
hand,
and
Western
aesthetic
sophistication
and
innovation
 on
the
other—as
Wilde
noted.
In
many
ways,
more
important
than
Japan
in
the
 transformation
of
wallpaper
design,
is
what
happened
to
Japanese
motifs
and
 principles
in
the
hands
of
E.W.
Pugin,
Owen
Jones,
E.W.
Godwin,
Christopher
Dresser,
 and
the
American
Arthur
Wesley
Dow,
among
others.

 7

  8. 8. What
people
were
seeing
that
was
making
them
so
crazy
with
inspiration
were
in
part
 objects
from
this
world,
and
in
part
objects
designed
entirely
with
us
in
mind.
A
 trickle
in
the
mid‐1850’s
by
the
1870’s
had
become
a
flood
of
prints,
paintings,
 lacquers,
bronzes,
silver,
ceramics,
souvenirs,
old
and
new,
cheap
and
expensive,
 traditional
and
modern—and
all
of
it
completely
upending
standard
ideas
of
beauty,
 of
design,
of
material,
and
let’s
face
it,
as
Wilde
noted,
of
attitude.
the
first
impact
 was
felt
in
France.
 8

  9. 9. There,
ideas
garnered
from
Japanese
item
and
images
found
their
way
not
only
into
 radical
experiments
of
painting,
but
also
in
such
things
as
dish
design,
often
by
some
 of
the
same
artists.
These
early
efforts
were
quintessential
Japonesque;
such
objects
 retained
all
of
their
essential,
traditional
characteristics,
but
in
ornament
replicated
 precisely
an
exoticism
found
fascinating,
including
certain
decorative
principles—such
 as
the
extension
of
motif
to
the
edges
of
the
plate,
rather
than
confining
it
to
the
 center,
as
was
conventional.
The
Parisian
avant
garde
was
international
one;
some
of
 the
figures
important
to
us
were
among
those
who
mingled
and
shared
ideas


 But
for
an
art
inspiration
to
be
truly
pervasive,
for
a
craze
to
occur,
it
has
to
be
 embraced
by
the
broadest
public.
We
can
actually
point
to
a
specific
date
on
which
 Japan
exploded
into
Western
consciousness,
and
for
wallpaper
design
it
was
not
the
 “Japonisme”
of
France,
but
the
Japan
Craze
ignited
in
England.

 9

  10. 10. It
is
to
the
International
expositions
that
we
owe
the
Japan
Craze.
The
first
explosive
 effect
was
at
the
London
exposition
of
1862:
Sir
Rutherford
Alcock’s
Japanese
Court
 transfixed
millions—
among
them
E.W.
Pugin,
Owen
Jones,
Christopher
Dresser,
EW
 Godwin,
and
other
reformers
in
the
art
and
design
world.
Convinced
that
Western
 society,
sullied
by
the
Industrial
Revolution,
needed
new
solutions,
newly‐opened
 feudal
Japan
was
a
highlight
of
the
“orientalism”
they
considered
”a
fresh
well
of
art”
 at
a
time
when
“art”
was
thought
the
distillation
of
all
that
was
good
or
bad
about
a
 society.
In
addition
to
millions
of
visitors,
journalistic
and
critical
commentary
fanned
 awareness
from
this
point
onward.
 Japan,
in
the
death
throes
of
its
feudal
era—had
nothing
to
do
with
this
event.
Those
 few
Japanese
who
even
saw
it
found
everything
inauthentic
and
aesthetically
 beneath
contempt.
Even
an
embarrassment.
But
its
dramatic
success
inspired
those
 behind
the
Meiji
restoration
only
6
years
later,
resulting
in
a
huge
official
presence
at
 subsequent
fairs,
largely
defined
by
Western
tastes
and
expectations.
As
the
era
 progressed,
everything
from
export
goods—wallpapers,
ceramics,
textiles,
bronzes,
 fans—to
the
leftover
detritus
of
objects
from
the
old
regime—found
their
way
to
the
 fairs
where
people
encountered
them
in
a
grand
oleo.

 10

  11. 11. But
as
I
said,
there
are
no
straight
lines
in
this
story.
Japan’s
breakneck
modernization
 was
built
on
manufacturing.
Some
of
the
most
impactful
influences
on
Western
 wallpaper
designs
were
Japanese
export
wall
coverings
so
exquisitely
pegged
to
 Western
tastes
that
by
1912
Japan
was
the
world’s
largest
exporter
of
mass‐produced

 textiles
and
wall
treatments,
with
ads
in
every
home
magazine,
newspaper
and
 design
publication.
The
thousands
of
patterns
were
a
spectrum
from
“oriental”—to
 not.

 Western
scholars
have
been
perplexed
as
to
how
to
consider
these
products,
due
to
 their
clinging
to
a
persistent
myth
of
“authenticity.”
This
elevates
the
arts
of
Japan’s
 dead
past
and
rejects
its
mass‐produced,
hybrid,
non‐traditional
production.
This
 myth
is
hardly
new.
It
arose
with
the
19th
century’s
most
influential
design
reformer
 John
Ruskin
and
was
embraced
by
many
of
the
innovators
in
wallpaper
design:
Pugin,
 Morris,
and
Dow,
to
name
a
few.
To
them
mass‐produced
wall
coverings
failed
the
 test
of
“authenticity,”
not
only
in
terms
of
what
they
deemed
“real”
Japanese,
but
 also
as
imitation
anything.
The
longevity
of
this
myth
is
a
measure
of
the
influence
of
 these
reformers
in
our
standards
of
taste
today.
Understanding
Japanese
influence
 demands
that
we
drop
this
bias
and
give
export
papers
their
due
for
having
brought
 new
motifs,
color
combinations,
formal
relationships
and
concepts
of
taste
to
middle
 class
homes
and
sensibilities.

 11

  12. 12. Besides,
Westerners
were,
frankly,
flagrantly
inaccurate
and
expedient
in
where
they
found
inspiration,
 and
how
they
used
it.
The
supreme
example
is
also
one
of
the
earliest
and
finest
examples
of
wall
 treatments,
if
not
wall
paper:
the
so‐called
Peacock
Room
of
James
McNeal
Whistler.
The
owner
railed
 over
the
unasked‐for
alteration
of
his
dining
room,
especially
when
presented
the
bill—but
this
 audacious
extravaganza
was
an
unqualified
critical
triumph
of
décor.

 described
by
Wilde
as
“like
a
great
peacock
tail
spread
out”
when
lit,
The
Peacock
room
typifies
 Japonesque
as
a
pastiche
veneer
of
Asian
references
over
an
entirely
Western
space.
Peacocks
were
 considered
the
requisite
exotic
complement
to
blue
and
white
Chinese
porcelains,
called
by
the
 misnomer,
“hawthorne
jars.”
The
rage
for
them
sent
prices
to
fantastic
highs,
assuring
indispensability
 to
the
wealthy
who
displayed
them
on
an
elaborate
“Japonesque”
shelving
constructed
of
spindles,
as
 here.
 12

  13. 13. But
mostly
Whistler
looked
to
Japan,
whose
every
art
form
for
him
exemplified
the
 “rarified
ideal
of
beauty”
at
the
heart
of
the
Aesthetic
philosophy
to
which
he
 adhered.
He
sought
the
effect
of
a
lacquer
box—objects
of
great
appeal
to
Victorians
 for
the
richness
of
pattern
and
technique
on
a
single
object.
He
replicated
those
 effects
by
building
up
surfaces
beneath
the
gold
and
silver
and
including
metallic
 dust.
From
Japanese
screens,
he
borrowed
the
square
patterns
of
their
large
 expanses
of
gold
and
their
dimensional
effects
for
the
hinged
shutters.
Paintings
and
 prints
of
peacocks
were
immensely
popular
imports.
Whistler
owned
a
print
very
 similar
to
this,
which
tantalizingly
resembles
the
bird
on
the
left
shutter.
A
bag
of
 mixed
references,
the
Peacock
Room
walls
are
the
finest
examples
of
the
early
spirit
 of
Japonesque
wallpaper.
Few
were
so
sophisticated.
 13

  14. 14. Because
of
their
“authenticity”,
and
also
because
of
their
portability,
and
adaptability
 to
Western
spaces,
the
traditional
folding
screen
was
a
popular
export
item
from
 Japan,
and
a
logical
and
potent
model
for
Western
wall
treatments.
But
in
Western
 hands,
they
were
understood
more
as
“paintings”
than
the
portable
walls
as
they
 actually
were.
 14

  15. 15. Moreover,
Westerners
encountered
them
in
a
very
“inauthentic”
and
jumbled
way,
 usually
displayed
in
the
familiar
Western
manner
of
miscellaneous
agglomeration—as
 often
as
not
by
Japanese
exhibitors
at
International
Expositions,
which
is
where
these
 photos
came
from.
I
think
that
such
displays
themselves
encouraged
 misunderstanding
about
authenticity,
and
some
of
the
first
experiments
in
wall
 treatments.
 15

  16. 16. As
in
one
of
the
earliest
known
in
the
US,
a
1879
New
York
bedroom:
A
frieze
of
 ukiyo‐e
prints,
fan‐bedecked
walls,
boldly
asymmetrical
ceiling
motifs,
and
miniature
 parasols—the
cheapest
of
souvenirs—serving
as
lamp
shades.
I’ve
tried
to
replicate
 its
flamboyant
barrage
of
color
and
pattern,
and
whimsical
exoticism.
It
is
a
florid
 misinterpretation
of
a
style
that
originated
with
a
close
friend
of
Wilde’s
and
Whistler,

 the
influential
British
architect
designer
E.W.
Godwin
whose
advocacy
of
creative
 adaptation
of
things
Japanese
included
the
concept
of
restraint.
Godwin
named
this
 style,
with
which
many
of
you
are
probably
already
quite
familiar,
“Anglo
Japanese”
 16

  17. 17. Godwin
never
went
to
Japan.
He
knew
it
from
the
few
books
available,
the
crowded
 displays
of
Alcock’s
Japanese
Court
in
1862,
the
imports
of
Liberty
&
Co
and
Parisian
 galleries,
and
the
then‐small
collection
in
the
South
Kensington
Museum,
now
the
 Victoria
&
Albert.
His
concept
included
a
Western
mantra
of
good
design:
harmony.
 As
this
engraving
of
his
own
foyer
shows,
“harmony”
meant
that
“Japanese”
walls
 called
for
“Japanese”
textiles,
lampshades,
wood
trim,
vases,
and
plank
floors.
 Moreover,
you
can
also
see
in
both
rooms
another
convention
of
“Japanese”
taste— mixing
of
miscellaneous
patterns—which
we
will
see
again.

 His
Anglo‐Japanese
concept
a
long
reach.
This
illustration
was
the
frontispiece
of
the
 influential
Art
Furniture,
a
manufacturer’s
catalog
of
Godwin’s
designs.
Available
in
 the
US
and
pirated
in
major
American
publications
such
as
Decorator
and
Furnisher,
 where
I
discovered
it;
his
designs
and
wallpapers
both
purchased
by
wealthy
 Americans,
and
viewable
to
the
general
public
at
one
of
America’s
seminal
events
of
 the
late
19th
century:

 17

  18. 18. the
1876
Centennial
Exposition
in
Philadelphia,
where
along
with
Anglo‐Japanese
 style,
Japan
itself
arrived
in
a
tidal
wave
of
art
goods
and
the
first
Japanese
buildings
 in
the
US.
The
critical
impact
was,
again,
explosive.

 Anglo‐Japanese
style
revealed
to
Americans
a
way
to
adapt
these
exotic
inspirations.
 Godwin’s
furniture
featured
in
British
displays.
And,
in
person
the
recognized
design
 genius,
mass
production
pioneer
and
charismatically
charming
Christopher
Dresser,
 lectured
at
the
fair
and
signed
contracts
with
wallpaper
companies.
Dresser,
in
the
 thrall
of
Japan,
was
en
route
on
his
first
trip
there.
Though
the
visit
would
completely
 transform
his
vision,
his
wallpapers
reflected
his
earlier
Aesthetic/Anglo‐Japanese
 perspective.

 Unlike
those
who
condemned
mechanization
on
artistic
and
moral
grounds—Dresser,
 like
Owen
Jones,
embraced
it,
and
recognized
in
the
economical
formalism
of
 Japanese
design
an
excellent
model
for
mass
production
that
could
bring
the
moral
 uplift
of
good
design
to
the
masses.
So
far,
I
have
yet
to
see
his
wallpaper
designs,
yet
 his
pre‐Japan
trip
designs
in
other
media
are
quintessential
Japonesque,
and
his
 influence
is
such
that
his
ideas
are
present
even
if
we
cannot
precisely
see
them.
So
 with
that,
I
want
to
explore
this
process
of
adaption,
beginning
with
work
by
his
 friend,
E.W.
Godwin.
 18

  19. 19. One
common
fascination
was
for
Japan’s
traditional
heraldic
symbols,
Mon.
Godwin’s
 sketchbooks
include
studies
of
them—and
creative
revisionings
of
familiar
motifs
into
 mon‐like
designs.
Mon
became
the
basis
for
elegant
wallpapers
that
are
great
 examples
of
the
two
sides
to
the
attraction
of
Japanese
motifs.

 mon
illustrate
the
era’s
linking
of
design
and
social
philosophy.
Many
romanticized
 these
clan
symbols
as
vestiges
of
a
lost
feudal
era
whose
moral
purity
was
manifest
in
 the
“honesty”
of
its
arts,
makers
perceived
as
members
of
guilds‐‐cooperatives
of
 high
standards,
hand
work,
and
pure
creative
spirit.
Ruskin,
Morris,
E.W.
Pugin
 (expanding
upon
the
ideas
of
his
father,
A.W.)
and
others
bemoaned
as
a
kind
of
 moral
sell
out
every
aspect
of
Japan’s
modernization
(like
its
inexpensive
mass
 produced
wallpapers).
To
assimilate
mon
into
a
British
domestic
environment
though
 wallpapers
or
any
other
medium
was
to
bring
the
moral
uplift
they
held
into
the
 home.
Godwin
no
doubt
ascribed
to
this
idealism
at
least
in
part.
 19

  20. 20. But
Godwin
was
more
than
romantic
dreamer
and
slavish
imitator.
He
proselytized
 “assimilation”
and
sought
to
reject
superficial
exoticism.
His
are
among
the
earliest
 attempts
to
adapt
Japanese
design
principles
independent
of
“Japaneseness”
itself,
to
 create
designs
appropriate
for
the
modern
times
he
lived
in.
In
specific,
the
graphic
 power
of
such
economical,
two‐dimensional
pattern
drew
his
eye.
Thus,
it
is
likely
no
 accident
of
a
resemblance
between
his
reinterpretation
of
the
peacock
as
a
mon
with
 familiar
forms,
and
with
adapting
motifs
to
distinctly
un‐Japanese
purposes— wallpaper
being
but
one.

 The
laurel
wreath
motif
of
this
early
19th
c
paper
makes
clear
that
very
similar
effects
 are
readily
found
on
European
pre‐industrial
wall
treatments.
In
a
conventional
era,
 such
formal
parallels
made
exotic
Japanese
motifs
comprehensible
and
acceptable,
 while
the
graphic
economy
and
2‐D
elegance
of
Japanese
designs
validated
 theoretical
rationales
for
the
superiority
of
certain
approaches
over
others
in
early
 mass
production.
 .
 20

  21. 21. In
addition
to
despairing
over
quality,
Western
“socio‐aesthetic”
theorists
detested
the
new
mass
 production’s
delight
in
imitation
effects.
These
they
cast
in
a
moral
dimension
as
“dishonest.”
Tromp
 l’oeile,
of
which
the
French
were
major
proponents,
they
considered
a
travesty
that
did
not
respect
the
 flat,
solid
essence
of
walls.
Reading
the
shrill
condemnation
of
a
wallpaper
exhibit
that
featured
a
giant
 speeding
train
bearing
down
a
room’s
occupants,
one
could
argue
that
they
had
a
point..
(An
irony,
as
 the
Japanese
were
masters
of
tromp
l’oeil
in
many
media)
“Problems”
such
as
this
led
to
the
idea
that
 ornament
should
not
be
left
to
develop
unguided,
but
needed
corrective
principles.

 Japan
offered
a
powerful
“moral”
alternative
to
French
dominance
of
interior
design.
Godwin,
Pugin
 and
Jones—perhaps
because
they
also
were
practicing
architects
and
designers
as
well
as
theorists— found
in
Japanese
design
the
perfect
antidotes
to
this
scourge.
Qualities
attributed
to
recently
feudal
 Japan
also
included
the
elevation
of
nature
as
the
true
source
of
all
good
ornament.
The
screen
above
 is
both
realistically
botanical
and
frankly
2‐D;
the
textile
stencil
is
inspired
by
the
patterns
of
cracked
 ice..

 21

  22. 22. One
can
see
these
conventions
in
elegant
stylizations
by
designers
of
the
day.
These
 show
that
what
was
revered
by
Victorians
as
“Japanese”
really
could
be
described
as
 a
kind
of
a
language
of
“taste.

 Jones
and
Pugin
were
among
the
first
to
link
Japanese
design
dynamism
to
its
 conforming
of
ornament
to
function
and
material.
This
met
their
criteria
that
form
 should
be
appropriate
to
purpose,
and
that
decoration
should
reveal
form.
Designs
 like
mon,
and
the
random
blossoms
pattern
on
textile
stencils,
have
many
formal
 qualities
compatible
with
wallpaper,
namely
that
flatness
was
embraced
as
an
 essential
quality.
This
“Daisy
Diaper”
design
Jones
frankly
attributed
to
Japanese
 precedents.
The
pattern
on
the
right
of
random
daisies
against
a
trellis
by
an
 unknown
designer
of
the
same
period
very
likely
drew
its
inspiration
from
Jones’
 theories.
 22

  23. 23. Japanese
design
also
conformed
to
Owen
Jones’
36
general
principles
in
the
 Arrangement
of
Form
&
Color
in
Architecture
and
the
Decorative
Arts—his
concept
of
 true
beauty
arising
from
the
experience
of
repose
obtained
from
fitness,
proportion
 and
harmony,
absence
of
all
inessentials,
and
underlying
geometrical
order.
These
 precepts
are
to
be
found
in
his
wallpaper
of
1860,
which
resembles
patterns
in
his
 landmark
'The
Grammar
of
Ornament
(1856),
in
which
he
encouraged
designers
to
 look
beyond
the
traditional
plants
of
the
classical
repertoire.
These
typical
Japanese
 stencils
show
how
Japanese
design
conventions
happen
to
conform
exactly
Jone’s
 views,
and
are
very
suggestive
of
the
designs
by
Godwin—unsurprising
in
light
of
the
 fact
that
all
of
these
design
reformers
were
well‐acquainted
with
each‐others
work,
 and
often
friends.
 There
are
also
conventions
that
blur
the
line
between
“motif”
and
“compositional
 structure,”
 23

  24. 24. Lattices
entwined
with
garden
vines,
appealing
for
their
Informality,
randomness
 anchored
by
geometry,
were
among
the
most
popular
of
of
the
many
motifs
inspired
 by
Japan.
We
often
don’t
link
Wm.
Morris
with
Japan‐derived
ideas,
but
some
of
his
 designs
were,
including
this
famous
one
that
was
produced
in
several
delicate
 Japanese‐inspired
color
combinations:
depicted
in
situ
by
Godwin
for
one
of
his
grand
 home
designs—lest
you
doubt
the
lattice
pattern
to
be
inspired
by
Japan,
note
his
 depiction
of
the
lady
in
kimono.

 24

  25. 25. Japanese
design
also
managed
to
simultaneously
meet
what
would
appear
to
be
 mutually
exclusive
Victorian
attractions:
a
bizarre
counterpoint
to
the
elevation
of
 “structure
and
geometry”
was
equal
love
for
“randomness”
and
horror
vaccui.
 Japanese
designs
such
as
cracked
ice,
miscellanies
of
textile
patterns
and
floating
fan
 cartouches
met
these
penchants,
their
crisply‐outlined
asymmetry
creating
a
kind
of
 order
to
chaos
that
was
as
reassuring
as
it
was
daring
and
novel.
Victorian
patterns
 that
attempt
to
replicate
that
effect
of
“structured
randomness”
are
among
the
most
 common
of
Japonesque
designs—the
textile
by
Godwin
may
actually
copy
a
Japanese
 design
directly.

 25

  26. 26. While
innovative
design
reformers
such
as
Godwin,
Dresser,
Jones
and
Pugin
 attempted
to
discern
the
underlying
design
principles,
or
“grammar”
of
“Japanese”— as
Jones
himself
would
have
put
it,
the
Craze
meant
that
the
“vocabulary”
of
 Japanese
motifs
was
adapted
willy‐nilly
by
everyone
else.
Wallpapers
share
imagery
 and
organizational
schemes
with
all
sorts
of
other
objects.
In
interior
décor,
this
 allowed
for
the
equally
important
Victorian
penchant
for
harmony—your
walls,
 upholstery,
curtains,
furniture,
lamps,
vases,
windows
and
all
decorative
accents
 down
to
the
doorknobs
all
could
be
“Japanese.”

 26

  27. 27. One
of
my
favorite
motifs,
the
Spider
web,
was
also
a
Victorian
favorite
that
appears
 in
every
conceivable
context.
I
think
it
met
the
Victorian
penchant
for
“honesty”,
 hominess,
informality—and
also
geometry.
Another—highly
ironic
given
the
noise
 about
“honesty”
is
the
common
Japanese
visual
trick
of
projecting
elements
past
a
 defined
border,
denying
2‐d.
Also,
this
wallpaper,
with
its
windblown
poppies,
pinks,
 daisies
and
other
flowers
in
shades
of
pink
and
pea
greens,
adapts
both
naturalism
 and
subtle
tertiary
color
combinations
inspired
by
Ukiyo‐e
prints.
Some
 commentators
considered
such
schemes
“barbaric”
in
contrast
to
the
conventional
 for
bold
red,
blue
and
gold.
The
preference
for
complex
colors
would
be
among
the
 most
long‐lasting
of
Japanese
effects,
extending
well
into
the
era
of
Arts
&
Crafts,
and
 therefore
becomes
one
of
the
most
ubiquitous,
and
invisible,
of
conventions
adapted
 from
Japan.
 27

  28. 28. By
the
1880’s
In
addition
to
thousands
of
exported
furniture,
lacquers,
carvings,
 paintings,
prints
and
ceramics
to
be
seen
in
shops
everywhere,
mass‐produced
 textiles
and
wall
coverings,
Japanese
patterns
came
to
the
public
filtered
through
 many
un‐Japanese
sources:
design
journals
such
as
Decorator
and
Furnisher,
Art
 Amateur,
Siegfried
Bing’s
Artistic
Japan,
and
others,
their
very
presentation
 suggesting
ideas
to
be
replicated.
 28

  29. 29. It
is
suggested
that
LC
Tiffany
used
actual
Japanese
papers
for
the
walls
of
his
library
 in
the
now‐lost
Bella
Apartments.
This
room,
created
around
the
time
of
those
design
 journals’
patchwork‐like
samplers
of
Japanese
pattern,
tempts
the
idea
that
this
is
 perhaps
a
replication
with
actual
Japanese
paper
on
a
large
scale.
It
shares
more
with
 those
samplers,
or
perhaps
displays
at
expositions
than
it
does
with
any
sort
of
 authentic
Japanese
wall
treatment.
It’s
clutter
is
purely
Victorian;
the
miscellany
we
 also
saw
in
E.W.
Godwin’s
foyer.
In
short,
it
is
really
wholly
Western.
It
is
unlikely
that
 Tiffany
had
any
interest
in
being
authentic,
instead
using
Japanese
aesthetics
as
he
 understood
them
as
a
springboard
for
his
own
ideas.

 Although
their
personal
aesthetics
were
poles
apart—Godwin
austere
and
Tiffany
 opulent,
they
have
in
common
important
roles
as
early
assimilators—the
initial
steps
 in
a
process
in
which
ultimately
overtly
exotic
surface
elements
disappear,
leaving
 their
underlying
principles
as
a
formal
design
apparatus.
 29

  30. 30. Assimilation
is
the
key
element
of
the
progression
from
Japanese
to
modernism,
and
 Japonesque
is
the
key
transitional
step.
The
process
is
easy
to
see
in
the
adaptation
of
 the
Japanese
“miscellany”
of
cartouches
and
pattern.
From
around
the
same
time
as
 the
designs
with
consciously
Japanese
elements
that
we’ve
already
seen,
there
were
 also
many
examples
of
these
same
formal
arrangements
applied
to
other
exotic
 motifs
and
locales,
and
also
very
familiar
ones—as
here,
with
its
pictures
of
Niagara
 Falls
and
other
famous
North
American
sights.
The
exotic
Persian‐inspired
motifs
of
 the
one
to
its
right
distract
from
what
is
essentially
a
Japonesque
underlying
structure
 of
overlapping
cartouches
in
a
variety
of
shapes,
and
an
emphatic
two‐ dimensionality.
 30

  31. 31. This
assimilative
process
catalyzed
many
media—Wallpapers
share
a
quintessential
 Victorian
era
design
trend
that
is
simply
a
reorganization
of
Western
pictorial
 “vocabulary”
to
Japanese
“grammar.”
The
ukiyo‐e
print—in
addition
to
raising
the
 sophistication
of

wall
treatments,
contributed
its
schemes
of
color
and
motif,
 composition,
use
of
symbols,
edited
imagery,
and
cropping,
to
the
new
profession
of
 advertising
design.
In
other
cases,
we
see
a
kind
of
neutralized
exoticism—the
 structural
grammar
applied
to
all
sorts
of
“foreign”
motifs,
and
the
result
given
a
 suitably
distant
name—as
in
this
plate,
from
a
series
called
“Cairo.”
“Melbourne”
was
 another.
We
see
such
designs
as
quaint.
However,
they
not
only
were
modern
in
their
 day,
they
set
the
stage
for
the
absorption
to
the
point
of
invisibility—and
at
the
point
 where
Western
designers
and
artists
are
working
with
these
principles
completely
 free
of
Japan
itself,
we
have
the
earliest
examples
of
truly
modern
design.
 31

  32. 32. A
major
step
came
through
an
American.
This
magazine
cover
shares
key
elements
 promoted
by
Pugin,
Jones,
and
others—a
nature
motif
edited
to
basics,
two‐ dimensionality,
geometric
structure,
compositional
balance.
The
exotic
flower
and
 title
make
clear
the
link
to
Japan.
Indeed,
the
designer—like
his
English
counterparts —openly
espoused
Japanese
principles.
This
was
Arthur
Wesley
Dow—universally
 recognized
as
single‐handedly
changing
art
education
in
America.
Even
more
than
his
 lectures
nationwide
and
eminence
at
the
top
schools
of
the
day,
the
heart
of
his
 stunningly
successful
campaign
to
uplift
art
at
a
time
when
it
was
considered
a
 centerpiece
of
learning
lay
in
his
1899
book,
Composition.
Composition
went
into
13
 editions,
for
decades
the
most
influential
art
ed
book
in
the
United
States.
Virtually
 every
serious
artist
or
designer
encountered
it,
so
that
it’s
impact
is
felt
even
when
it
 is
not
openly
acknowledged
or
recognized.
If
you
think
you
feel

a
kinship
between
 the
work
of
Georgia
O’Keefe
and
other
robustly
powerful
works
through
the
1930’s
 and
some
of
the
wallpapers
we
are
about
to
see,
you
are
correct.
She
was
one
of
 Dow’s
most
famous
students.
 32

  33. 33. Dow’s
theories
were
catalyzed
by
Japanese
ukiyo‐e
prints
at
the
Boston
Museum
of
 Fine
Arts.
He
distilled
what
they
inspired
into
a
methodology
that
he
gave
the
 Japanese
name:
“nōtan”
essentially
meaning
Balance.
By
notan
he
meant
a
kind
of
 psychological
sense
of
poise,
achieved
by
an
exquisitely
calibrated
interrelationship
of
 line,
form,
and
shadow.

What
inspired
him
is
readily
apparent
when
we
compare
 Dow’s
painting
on
the
left
with
the
print
on
the
right
by
the
19th
century
Japanese
 artist
Kuniyoshi.
As
an
aesthetic
standard,
Dow’s
notan
closely
resembles
Owen
 Jones’
36
Principles,
with
their
assertion
of
true
beauty
in
the
harmony
achieved
by
 proportion,
geometric
structure
and
the
subtraction
of
all
but
the
essential.
But
Dow
 generalized
this
to
all
the
arts,
not
just
industrial
and
decorative
arts,
which
led
him
to

 re‐envision
his
own
work
into
the
recognizably
modern
directions.

 33

  34. 34. Notan
theory
was
intrinsically
compatible
with
the
American
Arts
&
Crafts
Movement —which
though
born
in
the
ideas
of
Ruskin
(who
evidently
regarded
Japan
 suspiciously)
also
looked
to
Pugin,
Jones
and
Morris,
and
like
them
took
inspiration
 from
Japan.
American
A&C
likewise
relied
heavily
on
its
own
interpretations
of
 Japanese
concepts
of
color,
material,
form,
and
the
“personal
character”
these
could
 generate.
The
ubiquity
of
Dow’s
notan
concept
I
believe
accounts
for
the
aesthetic
 unity
of
Arts
&
Crafts
designs,
many
of
which
have
been
specifically
linked
to
his
 aesthetic.
Grueby
Art
Pottery
of
Boston
is
frequently
cited
as
representative
of
Dow’s
 ideas
as
expressed
in
craft,
and
the
link
between
this
tile
from
the
famous
“Trees”
 series
and
the
Japanese
print
is
obvious
in
the
flat
cells
of
color
in
tertiary
graded
 hues,
thin
outlines,
abstraction
of
forms
to
geometric
suggestion,
and
asymmetrical
 compositions..
We
find
the
same
qualities‐‐flat
cells
of
color,
simple,
abstracted
forms
 bounded
by
thin
outline,
organized
in
a
dynamic
balance
in
these
wallpaper
friezes.

 Neither
the
tile
nor
the
friezes
have
anything
overtly
Japanese
about
them
but
Nōtan
 defines
them:.
So,
four
decades
from
the
first
introduction
of
Japanese
concepts
in
 the
1860’s,
late
Victorian
experimentation
had
left
“Japaneseness”
behind
 With
this,
everything
is
in
place
for
the
future:
 34

  35. 35. Fast
forward
to
our
lifetimes—what
is
the
relationship
between
Japan
and
such
papers?
Notan—at
 least
as
originally
conceived‐‐does
not
come
into
play
at
all.
There
is
nothing
Japonesque
about
any
of
 these,
either.
But
I
would
consider
Japanese
design
as
essential
to
the
process
that
brought
us
to
this
 point.

 First,
being
representative
of
the
theories
of
the
likes
of
Jones,
Dresser,
Godwin,
Pugin
and
others
 embedded
Japanese
aesthetics
in
the
ideas
of
the
cutting
edge
progressives
of
the
early
Machine
Age —not
so
much
for
specific
motifs,
but
at
a
time
of
transformational
technologies,
as
a
standard
of
 color,
line,
and
composition.
Distilled
to
their
most
basic
essence,
we
wind
up
with
designs
like
these— that
celebrate
“hand
qualities”
on
one
hand,
and
machine
perfection
on
the
other.—and
all,
note,
 resolutly
2‐D

 But
even
more
important,
for
many,
many
in
the
art
and
design
world
pre‐WWI,
the
overriding
impact
 of
their
encounter
with
Japanese
art
and
design
was
that,
in
the
words
of
several,
it
freed
us.
In
an
era
 strangling
itself
on
the
challenges
of
industrialization
and
mass
production,
on
the
one
hand
it
showed
 that
technology
was
not
incompatible
with
aesthetic
quality,
and
in
a
time
of
extreme
conventionality
 on
the
other,
Japanese
design
offered
a
way
out—new
ways
of
color,
of
material,
of
motif
and
of
 design.
it
allowed
the
unconventional
people
of
that
time
a
way
to
think
out
of
the
straightjacket
of
 their
era.
Without
that
unleashing,
these
designs
could

never
have
been.
 35


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