I am currently holidaying in Amsterdam and today’s activity was a trip to the Van Gogh museum. As you would expect it was quite breath-taking to see all those famous artworks up close. However, there was an exhibition running while we were there, called ‘Van Gogh and Japan’ which celebrated Van Gogh’s love of Japanese art, showcased his extensive collection of Japansese prints and demonstrated just how much Van Gogh’s work was influenced by this form of Japanese art. This was a real bonus for me because I really like Japanese prints and had no idea that Van Gogh’s work was so influenced by them.
The exhibition highlighted the key features of Japanese prints as being:
– Large areas of flat, bright colour
– Bold contour lines,
– Prominent diagonals,
– Subjects cut off the edges of the picture
– Emphasis between the foreground and background
– A high or absent horizon
– Zooming in on details in nature
– Paintings that stood out as being influenced by the Japanese style include:
Small Pear Tree in Blossom – 1888
Almond Blossom 1890
Other points of interest from the exhibition were:
Kono Bairei’s album of ‘Drawings of a Hundred Birds’ – a book of printed images of Japanese birds, as well as prints by Utagawa Hiroshige and Hokusai. Interestingly, there was a print of Hokusai’s great wave included in the exhibition. How funny it was that I was able to stand next to it, on my own without a crowd of people jostling me – unlike when I went to see the Hokusai exhibition in London!
There is further information about the exhibition on the Van Gogh Museum’s website, here: