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Japanese Connections: The Birth of Modern Decor


Co-edited by Kaph Books x Louvre Abu Dhabi x Musée d’Orsay.

Starting in the 1860s, a partiality for anything coming from Japan appeared in France, followed by England, which was to continue for almost fifty years. Giving rise to the fashion of “Japonisme”, it followed on from the taste for “chinoiserie” that was in vogue in the courts of Europe at the end of the 18th century, and that had fascinated several generations of Romantic artists during the first half of the 19th century.

Most of the innovative artists collected these prints and were influenced by the themes specific to ukiyo-e, such as the seasons and climatic conditions. Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro, woodblock print artists who were little thought of in Japan due to the “lightness” of their works, were considered masters in France. Their influence, combined with that of photography and scientific discoveries relating to matter, had a profound effect on how the world and academic certainties based on unchanging principles were viewed. The aesthetic revolution initiated by the Impressionists was pursued by artists like Van Gogh and Gauguin, who both succumbed to the appeal of Japonisme and took up the formal simplification and bright colours of woodblock prints. The artistic exploration of such artists was to lead to the overturning of visual representation, of which the Nabis were direct heirs.

About the Authors

Isabelle Cahn

Isabelle Cahn is an art historian, a specialist in the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. She is the chief curator of paintings at the Musée d'Orsay and author of numerous publications

Fabienne Fravalo

Born in Nantes (France) in 1980, Fabienne Fravalo jointly studied Literature and Art History at the Sorbonne and at the École du Louvre. A specialist in the history and criticism of the decorative arts, she presented her doctoral thesis at the University of Neuchâtel on the journal Art et Décoration (1897-1914), which was awarded the 2016 Musée d'Orsay Prize. A researcher at INHA (Paris), she has also taught at the Jean Moulin-Lyon III University. She joined the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art in 2015.

Brigitte Koyoma-Richard

Brigitte Koyama-Richard is a specialist in Japanese culture and especially prints. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the Sorbonne, and a degree in Contemporary Japanese Literature from Waseda University in Tokyo. She is a professor at Tokyo's Musashi University where she teaches comparative literature and art history. She has published several books on Japan including "Japon rêvé, Edmond de Goncourt, et Hayashi Tadamasa" (Hermann, 2001), "La magie des estampes japonaises" (Hermann, 2003), "Komodo-e, L'estampe japonaise et l'univers des enfants "(Hermann, 2004), "Mille Ans de Manga"(Flammarion, 2007),"L'Animation japonaise du rouleau peint aux Pokémon"(Flammarion, 2010).

Technical Details

Publication Date:
Sunday, September 30, 2018
English or French or Arabic
Hardcover, Fabric Cover
24x28.5 cm
Number of Pages:
Kaph Books
The Arts