Many of the Impressionist artists (including Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, and Edgar Degas) were influenced by ceramics and prints from Asia. As these Western artists came into contact with luxurious items from the East, they began to appreciate the qualities inherent in Asian design. The linear emphasis and strong diagonal perspective of Japanese prints in particular appealed to painters who were seeking alternatives to the conservative conventions of contemporary art. Japanese prints, in effect, introduced these artists to an entirely different and intriguing way of looking at the world, and this is consequently reflected in the paintings of the Impressionists.
Nineteenth century artists outside of the Impressionist group were also inspired by Asian design. Vincent Van Gogh, for instance, found the flat areas of color and linear qualities of Japanese prints sympathetic to his emerging style of painting. The artist was so taken with a couple of prints, in fact, that he made his own reproductions, using his distinctive painterly technique (an example is his version of The Courtesan). Likewise, the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, who is remembered for such works as The Kiss, also integrated many of the elements of Asian and other decorative arts (including Byzantine mosaics) into his works. This synthesis of Eastern and Western design allowed Klimt to create a style that is strikingly fresh and modern, and in effect helped him to break free from the bonds of European tradition.
Because we are so familiar with the works of such painters as Monet and Van Gogh in this century, sometimes the debt these fine artists owe to decorative art is ignored. But the decorative arts have a magnificent history, and will continue to enrich our homes, lives, and imaginations.
The Art Book
This beautiful book is sure to enhance any art lover's library. It features a collection of art masterpieces, presented in a format that emphasizes the selected works of painting and sculpture. Stunning color images grace the pages, and every picture is accompanied by a concise description of each featured work and artist.