The Influence Of Japonisme On Van Gogh

1890 Words 8 Pages
‘Ephemeral… fugitive… contingent’: these words written by Charles Baudelaire in 1863 express the very nature of metropolitan life in the late nineteenth century. Urban renewal across Europe had given way to a new, fast-paced way of life, and nowhere was this more evident than in Paris: the then cultural centre of the western world. Crowds of people would converge upon Haussmann’s wide boulevards, swiftly navigating through the city to see and be seen by their fellow Parisians. Painting en plein air, the Impressionists aimed to capture these fleeting moments through rapid, loose brushstrokes which saw a complete revolution in pictorial technique. Having lived in Paris, Gauguin, Van Gogh and Cézanne were actively involved with the Impressionist …show more content…
Since the 1867 Universal Exposition in Paris, Japanese art had become very popular in France, and Van Gogh - as an avid collector of wood-block prints - was a great proponent of this movement, regarding Japan as an exotic utopia. In the Portrait of Père Tanguy, an art dealer and friend of the artist, the influence of Japonisme on Van Gogh is most evident. Working with thick and expressive brushstrokes, Van Gogh places Tanguy flatly against a background of Japanese prints, which display traditional images of landscapes and geishas. Painted wearing simple overalls, Tanguy poses like a Buddhist monk, thus the painting can be interpreted as an idealisation of the worker: an idea that Van Gogh would later pursue during his time in the South of …show more content…
Dominating the landscape was Le Mont Sainte-Victoire, a favourite subject of Cézanne’s which he painted numerous times during his career. A version which he completed in 1906 from his studio at Les Lauves depicts the valley to the east of Aix, yet this does not strike us as an empirical likeness of the French countryside. Rather, this painting is an example of art representing something, and art as a physical object in itself. In the foreground, Cézanne works with long strokes of green and brown to depict the rolling hills beneath his studio, contrasting with the fields beyond which are portrayed as a polychromatic mosaic of shorter, chisel-like brushstrokes. In the background, Cézanne paints Sainte-Victoire in a mix of blue and green, blurring the contours of the mountain with the sky through the new technique of passage. By applying colour via abstracted brushstrokes, Cézanne deliberately creates a two dimensional image, which embraces the presence of the canvas itself whilst shifting our attention to the depth and beauty of nature. The naturalist harmony found in this painting reminds us of the Classical world, capturing a temporal and spatial stillness far removed from the transience of the

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