Printmaking, poster design and photography had previously been considered minor or commercial arts as compared to painting and sculpture. The growing popularity of these mediums coincided with artists’ increasing use of elements from a Japanese vocabulary of stylized natural motifs.
References to nature, like crackled ice or abstract flower patterns, were embraced by both artists and collectors and were increasingly included in chic interior designs. In the same spirit, it became fashionable for gardens to be equipped with stone lanterns, trailing wisteria and bamboo gates, elements that brought a Japanese vision of the natural world into domestic life in the West.
Looking East includes a selection of household items, such as an elegant tea set and a Tiffany “Grapevine” letter rack, that evoke the West’s enchantment with Japanese approaches to depicting motifs from nature.