Kunsthaus Zürich

Monet, Gauguin, van Gogh…
Japanese Inspirations

Exhibition website

20 February – 25 May 2015

Japanese art is of fundamental importance to the development of European Modernism. Almost all the great artists drew inspiration from its motifs and characteristic style. For the first time in over 25 years, a comprehensive exhibition examines the phenomenon known as ‘Japonisme’. The focus is on the period from 1860 to 1910 – the early phase and heyday of Japanese art’s reception in France.

Japan’s emergence from over 200 years of complete isolation in 1854 unleashed a veritable mania for the country in the West, especially France. This was spurred on by the wealth of desirable imports from Japan presented at the world’s fair exhibitions, in particular Vienna in 1873 and Paris in 1878.

The vogue for all things Japanese manifests itself in numerous ways: artists such as Monet, Gauguin and van Gogh, Bonnard and Degas depicted imported artworks and everyday objects in their own paintings, adopted Japanese imagery and – in a development that was to have much further-reaching consequences – internalized the visual idiom of the Japanese woodcut. Indeed, it was this very act of appropriation, combined with their own pictorial tradition, that informed a creative process which gave rise to many and varied forms of artistic expression, the impact of which endured long into the 20th century.

The presentation comprises over 300 prestigious exhibits, including paintings and a representative selection of Japanese woodcuts by Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro and others, some of them drawn from the artists’ collections of the period. Artefacts from Japan are also juxtaposed with corresponding pieces from Europe. Historical photographs and a selection of highly graphic poster designs complete the survey of how Europe viewed Japan in the 19th century.

In collaboration with the Museum Folkwang in Essen.

Supported by the Truus and Gerrit van Riemsdijk Foundation, the Federal Office of Culture and our sponsoring paint supplier Farrow & Ball.

Claude Monet, Waterlily Pond, 1899
The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
Claude Monet, Waterlily Pond, 1899
The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

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Monet, Gauguin, van Gogh ... [exhibition poster]

Monet, Gauguin, van Gogh ... : Inspiration Japan :...