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Butterflies, Geishas and Dragons: The Arts and Influence of Japan

April 11 - September 28, 2014

Museum of Art Cardamone Gallery and Fountain Elms

With this exhibition, the Museum of Art showcases the rich influence of Japanese art and culture on European and American decorative and fine arts. All of the objects included are in the Museum’s collection.

Japan had been closed to the West for approximately three hundred years when, in 1854, its ports re-opened for trade, which in turn caused a fascination for all things Japanese in late nineteenth-century Europe and the United States. Expositions in London, Paris, Vienna, and Philadelphia introduced silk fabrics, kimonos, fans, screens, and other items to legions of fairgoers. The craze inspired Gilbert and Sullivan to write The Mikado and had a profound influence on artists such as James Whistler and Claude Monet; indeed, it’s difficult to imagine Impressionism without the decorative patterning and transitory moments of life as captured in the Ukiyo-e school, or “floating world,” of Japan’s prints.

Butterflies, Geishas, and Dragons features a wide range of objects, from netsuke and Japanese woodblock prints to ceramics, silver, and graphic arts created by Western artists inspired by the rich patterns, subject matter, and use of pictorial space in Japanese art.

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New York State Council on the Arts with the support of
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.