This new exchange created a hunger for all things Japanese, transforming imports from the country into trendy, must-have items. Woodblock prints, bronzes, lacquer ware and other goods from Japan were available in shops, galleries and also a series of hugely popular World's Fairs. These items quickly came to fascinate Western artists who sought alternatives to the conservative styles of the day.
Through Looking East, you’ll discover the aspects of Japanese art that awakened interest in the West, asymmetric designs, unusual high or low viewpoints, brightly colored shapes and dark outlines among them. “My whole work,” wrote Vincent Van Gogh in an 1888 letter, “is founded on the Japanese.”
Western artists were among the early visitors to Japan, and their pictures of its people, architecture and scenery also informed European and American views of the island nation. Louis Dumoulin’s 1888 painting Carp banners in Kyoto depicts light-dappled celebratory carp banners streaming over the city. Looking East presents this painting alongside a Japanese woodblock print with a similar theme, suggesting how Dumoulin’s work blended inspiration from Japanese art with his own travel memories, photographs and a healthy dose of imagination.