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Exhibition: Henri Riviere


The Japanese never tire of telling us how they were responsible for all the major developments in late 19th century European painting.

This Mickey Mouse theory runs something like this: Parisian painters were in a rut, painting boring old cupids, Greek gods, etc., when a crate of Japanese crockery duly arrived. Opening it they found teapots wrapped in discarded ukiyo-e prints, which blew their minds with their astounding use of purely decorative patterns, asymmetry, and rural and urban scenes. And, so, Impressionism was born! The true story, of course, is that French painters were only marginally influenced by Japanese art, all except for one or two odd fellows like Henri Riviere, who apparently developed something of a Hokusai complex as he copied the exact methods and styles of his hero. Instead of 36 views of Mt. Fuji, he took the Parisian equivalent – the Eiffel Tower! – as his subject, depicting it in ukiyo-e prints from all parts of the city.

Runs to Oct. 22, 2006, New Otani Art Museum
Japanzine
October, 2006
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