Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kuniyoshi in Paris

Writing that little Paris love story the other day and then having a virtual coffee with regular reader and commenter Dottoressa on Saturday (if you haven't yet read her guest post, I hope you'll find time to, soon. It seems to have been a big hit!) has me in the mood for some armchair memory travel. So much I haven't yet shared with you about our experiences in Paris, Bordeaux, Rome, and Turin.

First up, over the next few posts (woven among posts on the here and now, back home), a quick review of some art exhibitions we were lucky enough to view and some thoughts on when to plan and when to rely on serendipity. 

On major expositions and planning? If you're not going to get up early and be front of the waiting line, you should buy your tickets ahead of time. We didn't do this, and I was already practising my "I told you so's" as we approached the Grand Palais hoping to see either the Picasso Mania show there or the Louise Vigée Lebrun expo. Given the hour we'd walked under chilly grey skies, we were pleased to see that just across the street, the Petit Palais was hosting an expo that looked intriguing and had no line-up.

Serendipity strikes again! Kuniyoshi, Le Démon de l'Estampe (Kuniyoshi, Daemon Print-Maker) was marvellous, a sumptuous, entertaining display of the rich narrative art of 19th-century Japanese printmaker Kuniyoshi that also showed the influence of Kuniyoshi's coloured woodblock stamps on the Impressionists and made connections with a tradition of printmaking among such French artists as, for example, Odilon Redon.

Here are a few of my favourites from that show.

For the lovely domestic intimacy and the delights of the detailed textile patterns





Humour, chubby children, more delicious textile patterns -- note the prawn or lobster crawling from the hem of her kimono, and the large crab crawling over her sleeve, the fish tail . . . 


Skulls on the robe, very early Alexander McQueen, no?


This one is titled "Comment plier un Haori" -- or, How to fold a Haori (the traditional kimono jacket)... Here's a close-up detail...







Several other prints also dealt with Style, as with this How to Wear a Kosode

I loved this image of mother and child, again with striking attention paid to pattern-matching that would surely spur even Jenna Lyons on to new heights.











 Its title (in French, at least) is Brume Matinale à Komagata, or Morning Mist/Fog at Komagata.

I'm not showing you the stunning narrative panels, wildly fantastically and brilliantly detailed, depicting adventures with mythical monsters, evil men and women as well as good dressed in wondrously patterned garments to inspire a rich tradition of manga (Japanese comics) and perhaps even numerous catwalks. . .

And speaking of which, let's close this brief review with these absolutely delightful portrait-caricatures of Chats en Vogue Faisant des Mines or Fashionable Cats Making Faces
 The show continues at Paris' Petit Palais until January 17, 2016, should you be planning to take advantage of some of the discounts on flights and hotels that will surely be available in response to the recent attacks. After all, the City needs our support, tourism being one of its most important economic drivers. And the rewards, in art exhibitions alone, are nothing short of magnificent.

So, questions: Do art exhibitions form an important part of your travels? Or are you fortunate enough to live somewhere that brings a wealth of world-class curation right to your doorstep? Had you heard of Kuniyoshi? Are you a fan of manga? Would you travel to Paris over the next few months, if you could afford the time and the costs of travel?

Of course, I'm just throwing out questions to generate a conversation, as you know. Feel free to invent your own and answer them or comment on any aspect of this Monday morning post or just say hello . . .  Wishing you a good start to your week. . .
 


27 comments:

  1. What a treat to see these-thanks for sharing. That whole combining patterns in a decorative composition is so appealing and part of what we were working with, with our figure class a couple of weeks ago! Wish I had these to show the class.

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    1. It was a wonderful exhibition, and I did think of it when you were showing us examples of the Japanese influence on Bonnard, Matisse, et. al. I'll send you the photos if you'd like. Wish I'd brought the catalogue back with me!

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  2. Serendipity definitely smiled on you there - what a wonderful exhibition! Having visited Japan a decade or more ago, I love Japanese art and the kimono culture. I was lucky enough to be dressed up in a wedding kimono whilst I was there which was fascinating. The room I am sitting in at the moment has a Japanese theme too as I collected Japanese artefacts for my oldest son, who studied there.

    Still reelling from events in Paris. Would I go there now? I would love to say yes and my head says we should all just carry on regardless, but my heart says to wait a while. See what happens next. The sad thing is that essentially no-one is safe anywhere but in many ways that is always true, whatever is happening in the world.

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    1. Lucky you! I haven't been to Japan -- yet! -- although my husband has. Someday, I hope. . .

      Your honest answer about your willingness to visit Paris right now will probably resonate with many readers. I think I'd go now, if I won, say, an all-expenses-paid trip, but we can't really now what our gut would feel in the moment of a real choice. What a luxury we have, though, in that choice, unlike the millions of refugees traveling at risk, no home to feel safe in. . .

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    2. Glad I don't have to make that choice as it's not on the agenda anyway at the moment. Having said that, I did go into London the day after the 7/7 terrorist attacks as I had an appointment to meet my son there - wild horses can't keep me away from my children it seems!

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  3. Oh, I would have LOVED to have seen that exposition! Thanks for sharing these. The kimonos and cats are exquisite.

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    1. The patterning was unbelievable, and I could have taken so many photos. Really regretting that I didn't buy the catalogue. . .

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  4. What a wonderful exhibition,thank you for sharing. I love Japanese culture.
    McQueen AND Karl Lagerfeld were very well educated :-),if I may say
    And how many questions!
    Exibitions are and were very important part of my travels. Ai WeiWei exibition in London lately made me cry. I am not fond of instalations but you have to see and understand (and cry :-),so I changed my opinion.
    We are lucky to have great exhibitions from time to time,Picasso,Rodin lately,Da Vinci still and a lot of our artists
    Dottoressa

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    1. Yes, I do wonder if McQueen's education (both formal and informal) had shown him something like that skull-patterned kimono.
      I, too, am skeptical of some "installations" and of much "concept art" (too often, the concept would have been communicated just as clearly in writing, and once you get it, there's little aesthetic appeal or, even, energy). But we too saw an Ai WeiWei exhibition in London, a few years ago at the Tate Modern (the sunflower seeds) and it was astonishingly moving.
      You are lucky to live in a European city with the ability to see so many great exhibitions!

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  5. Not majorly part of my travels. I prefer to go round exhibitions by myself, to be frank and often feel bored waiting for someone else to get round. I am not a lingerer. I like a museum though and will happily spend hours browsing.

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    1. Yes, this is a challenge, although Pater and I have evolved ways of managing our different paces. . .

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  6. Thank you for sharing this ..the artwork is spectacular. I haven't really studied any Japanese art. My husbands keen to travel there but as always so many places so little time!!! Then there's the cost :) hopefully some day...
    Would I travel to Paris? Yes! Always! As horrifying as the recent incidents have been I feel they could happen anywhere ...unfortunately. We just need to continue to live our lives as we would wish, be vigilant ..then just pray and hope we're safe.
    I have family living in Brussels at the moment who love their life there. They wouldn't wish to move, yet have the difficulty of explaining to their children why they must stay at home not go to school etc. Such is life at the moment.
    Wishing for happier and peaceful times for us all ...sorry that sounds so simplistic.
    Rosie

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    1. Absolutely agree with you, Rosie, about travel. In fact, I have friends living in Paris now who have cancelled a planned trip because they want to stay in their beloved city and grieve together and rebuild spirit together and, as well, are volunteering to help welcome migrants there. As for sounding simplistic, I don't think you do. We can be aware of the world's sadness and trouble and fear, and yet wish for happier, peaceful times. Surely that's what anyone would want, and wishing for it, we might hope, will guide us to finding practical steps toward that end. I'm impressed how many are galvanized, now, to help migrants and refugees, for example.

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  7. My most frequent (and beloved) travel companions are not great museum fans so being able to include a gallery visit is a rare treat, but sometimes i fit one in....antique kimonos in Phoenix years ago, an eccentric university art gallery in Maine full of oddball bits and pieces, feather embroidered textiles in Mexico. BUT my "home city" has wonderful museums that I am able to visit alone at my own pace - so much to think about afterwards!

    Thanks as always for sharing your experiences.

    ceci

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    1. I'm really lucky that Pater has happily picked up my gallery-visiting habit, but there are many wonderful companions who would chafe at it. We managed very little in Rome in deference to group plans, but we did sneak in short, targeted visits, as with your great examples. Lucky you to have wonderful museums in your backyard, where you can probably pick times that are less crowded with visitors.

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  8. I really like the muted blues and greys in these images. What fun Janice would have building a wardrobe from them. I've not heard of Kuniyoshi before, but I am entranced by these lovely images of every day life, especially the ones with mothers and children.
    I'd love to go to Paris again. Whether or not I'd leave tomorrow if I could, I can't say. But it's a moot point.

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    1. I wonder what Janice would make of these riots of colour and pattern! I hadn't heard of him either -- serendipity delivered him to my doorstep (or vice versa, I suppose!)
      I think many of us would hesitate before boarding a plane anywhere right now, and it's hard to know which camp we fall in until it's more than a moot point, as you suggest.

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  9. Wonderful. Sumptuous. Gorgeous. And I don't see near enough art, and I'd like to change that.

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    1. Neither do we, when we're back at home, although we buy memberships every year to our Vancouver Art Gallery. Now that I'm retired, I've got to create habits around that so more art-viewing happens outside of travel as well.

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  10. Thank you for this post and your choice of prints. I did not know Kuniyoshi and these prints are amazing. And so modern!

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    1. They're very modern, aren't they Marie-Odile?! I wish I'd included even more.

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  11. Yes, art exhibitions are important and in fact are the inspiration for my travels from time to time! The latest trip was arranged to allow a visit to the Biennale Arte in Venice (which was vast, and varied, wonderfully inconsistent in content and execution, and the source of much conversation, serious and otherwise).

    I know nothing about Japanese art but there is an influence on post-impressionists as well I think...the Nabis? (Research required...must add to list!)

    I think, I hope, I would go back to Paris in the next few months if expenses were paid. I have been thinking about this a lot, mostly in response to kind friends who have assumed I must feel relief that I was home prior to November 13. It is difficult to articulate and I feel many things, but not relief, no.

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    1. I've never been to the Biennale, but I'd love to go someday (although I wonder if you found the crowds daunting?)
      I'd heard the term Les Nabis but couldn't have defined it until you asked this question and I googled quickly -- you'll know by know that yes, big influence in their work of Japanese art. My sister and I saw a Bonnard show at the Orsay in May that demonstrated some of this. . .
      Your last paragraph, the last two sentences, the difficulty of responding to such kindness. . . no, not relief. . . Take care. . .

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  12. I have never heard of Kuniyoshi but I love the plentiful opportunities to visit galleries in Paris. There are so many artists and styles to experience! Yes, I would go back to Paris. Terrorism is a form of bullying. I don't visit the VAG often enough and resolved to visit more often after reading the Hostess' post last week.

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    1. This is one of the undeniable reasons to continue visiting Paris, for us at least. There's just always such a concentration of exciting shows to visit so that we can count on learning something new, seeing something from a new perspective. I love that I always come away with new ideas bubbling. . .
      I need to get to the VAG soon as well. Maybe we'll cross paths! ;-)

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  13. The colours are beautiful ... and the humour unexpected ! Would love to have seen it .
    Must say , though , that I'm extraordinarily lucky in that there are lots of excellent museums within reach here and , with a modestly-priced Museum card , I can see anything I like . It's just a question of making the effort and getting on an early train .

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    1. You are lucky indeed! We've debated buying a Museum membership when in London, and while the math never quite works out, it comes awfully close. It wouldn't take many visits to get your money's worth and of course the value of the viewing is beyond price. Colour me envious!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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