Monday, November 1, 2010

Field Notes: It goes both ways; Asian Posters in the 1920s

Ukiyo-e by Kitagawa Utamaro
While doing our reading, I noticed that the book only deals with Graphic Art and Design influences in Europe and America during this period, while only noting the influence that Japanism had on it.  This week I kept wondering if and how Japan was influenced by what was going on in Europe and America, and I did some research on Asian posters of this period.

When our book left off, we were admiring Ukiyo-e, or Japanese woodblocks by masters such as Kitagawa Utamaro (left), with a restrained color pallette, simple composition and much less detail than most Victorian graphics.  This influenced the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts movements greatly in Europe and America. 

However, I found the influence was two ways, as one can see from looking at various posters during the time frame we've read about this week.  For example, this 1926 poster for the National Industrial Expo in Himeji has a distinct Western, Art Deco flavor while still retaining a distinct Japanese style.

By the 1930s, the Plakatsitl movement had a direct influence on Japanese posters with its spare style.  The poster for a Horse Exposition (1933) and one for an Exposition in Yokohama (1935) both show the graphical influence.  The above poster and the two below, plus many more, are on the website

I also found it interesting that Japan had a leftist movement in the 1930s, and those posters showed a heavy Western influence.  So in addition to new political ideas, they also got new graphic ideas.  From the webiste which has many more:

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