High On Art

Japan InspirationOver the years I’ve looked at lots of art.  I always enjoy what I see, but from time to time an exhibit sets my heart to racing.  So it was with Japan Inspiration at Kunsthaus in Zurich because it opened my eyes to a new way of seeing.

Japonisme was an unfamiliar term to me.  What it refers to is the period from 1860 to 1910  when Japan, after 200 years of isolation, opened to the world. The aesthetic and formal language of Japan and Japanese influences inspired the creativity of many European artists, and this exhibit shows how they impacted Gauguin, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and other Impressionists.  I was astonished to see the links between these artists and their Japanese counterparts.  Thankfully, I was able to take photos so you, too, can see the connection.

Mary Cassatt
Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt is one of my favorites, and her work depicting mother and child always steals my heart.

Japan Inspiration

How surprising it was to see a similar Japanese piece, the likes of which are said to have inspired Cassatt’s future work.Japan InspirationJapanese art often depicted women doing everyday things,


thus women doing the ordinary became subject for many favorite paintings by Degas.

Japan InspirationJapanese art was not modest when it came to showing intimate relations,


and a series of Picasso prints are equally as graphic.


Repeating landscapes was a habit of many Japanese artists and likely provide explanation for Cezanne’s recurring renderings of Mount Sainte Victoire.


Studying Japanese masters inspired Monet’s in-depth contemplation of nature. His water lily paintings are among his most familiar, but did you know the last years of his life were spent focusing totally on them and the reflective surface of his pond?

Toulouse Lautrec
Toulouse Lautrec

Japanese objects, such as the instrument in this Toulouse Lautrec painting, began appearing in Impressionist work.  I don’t know about you, but I never gave thought to the source of such images.


While I would not object to owning a piece by any one of the Impressionist masters, my preference would be one of Gauguin’s whose work did not escape the Japanese influence.

There is much more than shown, but this is enough to help you see the correlation between Japanese art and the work of many of the Impressionist artists whose paintings we so admire.  I hope it will help you identify Japanese influences when you next take a look at an Impressionist exhibit.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

17 thoughts on “High On Art

  1. I love Degas and his dancers! Awesome work!

  2. Georges Clemenceau was a great friend of Monet and a great admirer of Japonisme. His famous beach house is just up the coast from us…it’s filled with the most wonderful Japanese artefacts and paintings that were given to him by the Emperor of Japan.

    1. I was fascinated by the correlation between Japanese art and Impressionism and so glad not to have missed this exhibit.

  3. This is very enlightening. It takes me back to Art History days in college. Great post!

    1. The exhibit was, indeed, a learning experience, at least for me.

  4. Interesting post. I’m just such a Monet fan, I love his paintings. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I understand better now his long focus on lilies.

  5. Great post. Love Japanese art.

    1. Then you would have enjoyed this exhibit!

  6. Thanks so much for this post as I learned so much. Will have to be on the lookout for some of this art and the Japanese influence.

  7. Never thought about that before. Very interesting post and thanks for sharing the wonderful exhibit! Tina

    1. My pleasure, Tina. It was an incredible exhibit.

  8. This is fascinating Lulu – truly enjoyed seeing the pieces. Wonderful choices of art ~

  9. A fascinating look at these wonderful artworks, Lulu. Thanks for sharing. 😃

  10. Love this post. The comparisons have made me think about the similarities and differences of artists and famous works. I, too, love Cassatt, Lautrec, and Monet. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Fabulous exhibit….thanks for sharing. Now, on to the Italian masters!

  12. How interesting! Thank you for the pictures to explain the influence of the Japanese artists on Western art.

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