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Western Cultural Influence on Japanese Artistry - Essay Example

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Between the Meiji Restoration in the latter half of the 19th century and the Taisho Era prior to the First World War, Japanese culture was significantly changed due to Western influence and the styles of traditional Japanese art were changed or largely abandoned for Western artistic techniques.

During the period of Japanese isolation, artists were inspired to draw from their own cultural history and to create artwork based on the development of traditional techniques. Their work was heavily influenced by religious beliefs such as Buddhism and the Yoga lifestyle; after Western cultures were introduced to the nation, artists would study abroad and bring home classic European techniques such as impressionism, post-impressionism and eclecticism that would both stand alone and change the traditional Japanese techniques into new styles. During the early years of Western perception of Japanese art, many traditional styles were viewed as identical, due simply to the fact that European and North American audiences were not accustomed to them (Tipton, pp.53-55). While post-war Japan would be indisputably influenced by international cultures, it was the years of the Meiji Restoration and the Taisho era that started the artistic shift from traditional Japanese to modern Western styles.

Aside from sculpting Buddhas and the development of early ceramic techniques that would become invaluable throughout the world, Japanese artists took quite easily to painting as a major form of art. The fact that calligraphy was in itself an art form, rendered not only for function but for beauty, had a direct hand in the large-scale development of Japanese painting because both involved the use of a brush.
Brush skills were such a rudimentary part of Japanese life that it was second nature for artists to pick up a paintbrush and work on complete pictures instead of just characters. Because of this initial correlation between calligraphy and painting, one can easily see how the latter developed from the former. Japanese painting has traditionally utilized the same brush techniques as were necessary for the formation of calligraphy characters; these were further developed however the origins of such painting techniques can easily be discerned. Where traditional European painting was characterized by the use of the paintbrush to show objects in realistic form by making use of light and shading, Japanese painting formed as an offshoot of calligraphy and therefore objects were portrayed in a basic style that used individual lines in a form of impressionism.
Artwork in the Edo Period, immediately prior to the Meija era, encompassed not only painting and ceramics, but architecture and woodblock prints. Stunning architectural styles were not only beautiful when standing alone, but they were created in conjunction with various gardens that were designed to showcase the buildings in the best light. Traditional Japanese architecture is internationally famed alongside the country's ceramics, silk weaving and other art forms, but perhaps most unique ...Show more


With the onslaught of European, Asian and North American tourism and beliefs, Japanese culture has not only changed in terms of its economics, politics and other social factors but its artists have changed their focus as well (Martinez, pp.25-29)…
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Western Cultural Influence on Japanese Artistry
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