Yesterday, I taught the freshman about the Meiji Restoration. Primarily, in studying the Meiji Restoration you hear of how the West influenced Japan. Fun fact: Emperor Meiji’s cabinet was called the “Dancing Cabinet” because they were obsessed with western ballroom dancing. However, just like the Igbo culture, Japanese culture also had an enormous influence on Western art through the late 1800s to the early 1900s.
I did a little experiment in my presentation with the freshman. I put these two works next to each other and ask them what nationality they thought the artists of the two works were.
The first one they got right away—Japanese. It’s actually a traditional Japanese woodblock print. However, no one knew the second, which is The Courtesan by Vincent van Gogh c. 1887.
Van Gogh coined the term “Japonaiserie,” which he used to describe the influence of Japanese art. In 1888, Van Gogh wrote “All my work is based to some extent on Japanese art…”