When cultures meet, stuff happens

The Artdog Image of Interest 

This week’s Image of Interest is The Japanese Parisian, painted by the Belgian painter Alfred Stevens in 1872. It was painted during a time period when Europe had begun trading with a newly-opened Japan (the Meiji Era), and many European artists, intellectuals and elites were seized with a deep fascination with Japanese art and culture.

Japonisme, as this fascination was called, influenced many aspects of European culture and arts. It inspired and revolutionized the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, including Monet, Degas, Van GoghGaugin, and Whistler, as well as the Art Nouveau movement.

The allure of the exotic, the fascination with other cultures and their arts, is a human reaction we’ve seen in many times and places. But when is it a healthy cultural exchange, and when is it cultural appropriation?

I plan to spend some time this month looking at that and related questions, as we move toward Halloween, the Days of the Dead, and all the opportunities to explore other cultures–or cross inappropriate lines–that abound at this time of year.

OUR IMAGE: Many thanks to Mimi Matthews for a very nice image of one of Alfred Stevens’s more famous paintings.

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jansgephardt

Kansas City-based Jan S. Gephardt is a writer, artist, and teacher. She makes nationally-recognized paper sculpture and writes sf mystery novels about a sapient police dog.

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