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Dr Wilda Reviews: Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945 at the Seattle Art Museum

21 May

Moi was invited to a press viewing of the Seattle Art Museum’s Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945. This visually stunning Deco exhibit at the Asian Art Museum until October 19, 2014 is an example of how artists pick up vibrations and interpret the cultural vibrations that move their spirit and creativity. According to the press materials:

Jazz. Gin. Short hair and short skirts. The modern girl. The rise of film, and the advent of skyscrapers and air travel. After World War I, the world was changing rapidly. With the machine age came an increased emphasis on speed.
The art world answered with Art Deco, which had a driving energy that found expression in its use of themes from cultures all over the world, wild appropriation of other art forms, and graphic designs with fast lines that could be adapted and used on everything from housewares to posters, and for everything from politics to advertising.
By World War II, Art Deco had left its mark on almost every medium of visual art…. http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/deco

In addition, in 1923, the Japanese suffered the Kanto Earthquake which destroyed Tokyo and Yokohama. It was an interregnum period between wars as societies and individuals coped with the shifting social norms and political alliances. The Deco movement attempted to not only embrace modernity, but to make the modern beautiful as well as functional.

Some young Japanese women wanted to be modern girls or MOGA:

“Ten Qualifications for being a moga” (Modern Girl)
1. Strength, the “ene?my” of conventional femininity
2. Conspicuous consumption of Western food and drink
3. Devotion to jazz records, dancing, and smoking Golden Bat cigarettes from a metal cigarette holder
4. Knowledge of the types of Western liquor and a willingness to flirt to get them for free
5. Devotion to fashion from Paris and Hollywood as seen in foreign fashion magazines
6. Devotion to cinema
7. Real or feigned interest in dancehalls as a way to show off one’s ostensible decadence to mobo (modern boys)
8. Strolling inthe Ginza every Saturday and Sunday night
9. Pawning things to get money to buy new clothes for each season
10. Offering one’s lips to any man who is useful, even if he is bald or ugly, but keeping one’s chastity because “infringement of chastity” lawsuits are out of style
–by the leading illustrator Takabatake Kashō for the magazine Fujin sekai (1929)

The 200 items in the exhibit show the marriage of Japanese craftsmanship and artistic expression with the Deco movement. It is well edited to tell the Deco story from the Japanese perspective.
Seattle is very lucky to be a stop on the U.S. tour.

This exhibit is highly recommended. Dr. Wilda gives Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945 a definite thumbs up.

Here is information about the exhibit:

Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945
May 10 – Oct 19 2014
Asian Art Museum
Tateuchi Galleries
http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/deco

Art Deco Style defines Art Deco:

Art Deco Terminology

The term ‘Art Deco’ is taken from the name of the 1925 Paris exhibition titled Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. The most popular and respected French artists of the day showcased their work at this exhibition.
Jewelry makers, graphic artists, painters, architects, fashion designers and all other manner of craftsmen and women displayed their pieces at the exhibition. All of the works had a commonality – they were not only functional, but also very beautiful (i.e. decorative).
The term came up again in an article by the architect, Le Corbusier, titled ‘1925: Arts Déco’ and in 1966 at the retrospective exhibition titled Les années ’25: Art Deco/Bauhaus/Stijl/Esprit Nouveau. But it wasn’t until Bevis Hiller published his book, Art Deco of the 20s and 30s in 1968 that term was used to truly define that style movement.
In essence, Art Deco is a modern interpretation of the art movement that preceded it, Art Nouveau. So it may be helpful to structure the Art Deco definition in contrast to Art Nouveau.

Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau came into existence as a reaction to the purely functional and practical spirit of the Industrial Revolution. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, society was primarily concerned with production, machinery and the output of goods. Less focus was placed on beauty.
If something did not serve a practical purpose, it was in essence useless, regardless of how much pleasure it gave you to look at and admire it. But just like with anything in life, when you focus on one aspect of something at the exclusion of another, the other comes back with a vengeance! And so in came Art Nouveau.

Artists of the day began creating works of art that were highly stylized and purely decorative. The focus started to shift from the cold, dismal, lifeless factories to the energetic, colourful natural environment. Artists began to incorporate naturalistic motifs into their works – dragonflies, insects, flowers, birds, flowing water, etc.
Rounded edges, scrolls and curves were very popular as they evoked a more organic, natural feel. Moreover, the focus was back on beauty and decoration. Everything from architecture to jewellery to common household objects was embellished and beautified – function took a back seat and beauty was glorified.

Art Nouveau to Art Deco
Art Deco followed in Art Nouveau’s footsteps in that it also paid homage to beauty, but it was a more ‘modern’ interpretation. The Machine Age was well underway at this time and function became an important requirement again. The rounded, scroll, naturalistic motifs of Nouveau were replaced with geometric, angular and streamlined motifs like zigzags and chevrons (notice the difference in designs in the two lamp pictures above). Function was important, but not at the expense of beauty and decoration.

Art Deco Definition
To sum up, the Art Deco definition can be outlined as follows:
Art Deco is both a functional AND decorative artistic style that emerged in the early 1920s and influenced all forms of creative design. http://www.art-deco-style.com/art-deco-definition.html

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s 2003 exhibit showcased the global nature of the Deco style. See, Art Deco: Global Inspiration http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/art-deco-global-inspiration/

Resources:

Art Services International DECO JAPAN: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920 – 1945 U.S. museum schedule http://www.asiexhibitions.org/Deco-Japan.html

Japan’s art deco interlude http://www.salon.com/2012/03/17/japans_art_deco_interlude/

An Urbane and Unexpected Leap From West to East http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/arts/design/deco-japan-shaping-art-and-culture-at-japan-society.html?_r=1&

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Dr. Wilda Reviews Seattle Art Museum’ 2014 – 2015 seasons: SAM is at a fork in the road

19 Nov

Moi was pleased to be included in Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) preview of the 2014 – 2015 seasons. Media from all over the region gathered for lunch at the Triple Door. Lunch was provided courtesy of the Triple Door and Wild Ginger. The 2014 – 2014 season has what is now mandatory, a knock-your-socks major exhibit or two, a nod to the ethnic diversity of the region, an example or two of art mediums other than painting as well as the grand installation at the Sculpture Park. The headline is that SAM produces another stunning season, it won’t disappoint. The backstory is that SAM is at a fork in the road. It is hard to say about an institution, like SAM, who has been in existence over 85 years, what do you really want to be when you grow up, but that is the question at this moment in SAM’s history. This review has two parts, the review of the 2014 – 2015 season and some of the challenges faced by museums like SAM. Executive Director, Kimerly Rorschach disclosed that SAM will be starting the planning to produce a five year strategic plan and that Barney A. Ebsworth has given SAM a major piece, Echo for the Sculpture Garden. This gift highlights one of SAM’s major challenges, its acquisition budget.

Among the upcoming exhibits at SAM are:

William Cordova

September 20, 2013–January 19, 2014

Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse

November 16, 2013–February 16, 2014

Leo Berk: 2013 Betty Bowen Award Winner

November 7, 2013–February 23, 2014

From Abstract Expression to Colored Planes

March 16, 2013–November 9, 2014

Light in the Darkness

A Fuller View of China, Japan and Korea

August 10, 2013–April 13, 2014

Hometown Boy

Liu Xiaodong

August 31, 2013–June 29, 2014

Inked

Wan Qingli

August 31, 2013–June 29, 2014

Sandra Cinto

Encontro das Águas (Encounter of Waters)

April 14, 2012–February 17, 2014

Miró: The Experience of Seeing

February 13–May 25, 2014

DECO JAPAN: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945

May 10–October 19, 2014

This is just a sample of what is coming. Other exhibits of note include La Toya Ruby Frazier’s photographs, City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India, and Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art. Upcoming events can be found at http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibit/exhibit.asp

Despite the dazzle, SAM’s strategic plan has to examine some serious issues. A 2008 blog post by Ross Dawson examined some of the issues.

In Thinking about the future of museums: fourteen key issues, Dawson opined:

Below are fourteen key issues in the future of museums.
What is a museum?
On the face of it, a museum records and makes accessible artefacts the past that have cultural value. The curatorial process is one of showing people things that enrich them. Museums need to have a clear idea of why they exist. In most cases (in addition to any financial imperatives) the objective is to benefit society, by educating and creating culturally richer and more well-rounded members of society.
Entertainment vs. education and onto experience.
Entertainment and education are quite different intents, but they can be integrated to achieve both aims. Certainly the demand from younger people has shifted strongly to only paying attention if content is truly entertaining. Beyond that, museums are fundamentally about providing experiences. People will seek engaging and powerful experiences, and if museums can provide them, their can fulfil their roles.
Complement formal education.
Recent developments of school and adult education have not kept pace with external change. There is in particular an important role for experiences that help prepare people for the future.
Speed of response.
Exhibitions are a slow medium, often taking 6 months or far more to put together. This means that any exhibit will be historical rather than truly contemporary. As people grow used to a faster informational cycle, ways of bringing together information quickly in a meaningful way is often required to engage people.
Being credible and authoritative.
In a world of infinite information, people are looking for credible sources. The brand and identity of a museum can assist in being a preferred source of information.
Physical vs. Virtual.
A museum is in almost all cases a physical space with physical exhibits. Yet access can also be provided online, including in three dimensional worlds. It is not a question of choosing between them, or even doing both. Rather the issue is how to integrate both physical and virtual so they complement each other.
Potential for geolocational tagging.
As a specific form of integrating the physical and virtual, I think geolocation is a very useful technology. This can for example enable visitors to geo-tag exhibits, making their comments visible to others moving through the physical space. Video glasses or mobile devices can allow people to pick up on and add to conversations about what they are seeing and interacting with.
Engaging younger generations.
Today schoolchildren going on a museum visit often do their reports by typing notes and taking pictures on their mobile phone. However they are far from passive consumers, and unless you allow them to be active in engaging with content, you will lose them.
Getting museum experts to interface directly with users.
The existing interface between the knowledge of the museum staff and users is the exhibit. Social media and social networks are ways to enable this more direct connection, interaction, and knoweldge sharing.
Energizing the community.
Because museums touch so many schoolchildren, they have an opportunity to engage them far beyond their visits. MIT’s ThinkCycle, which takes an open source approach to designing solutions to problems thaat touch many underprivileged people.
Helping people to answer new and important questions.
Therapeutical cloning, genetically modified food, embryonic genetic modification, are all new technologies that we as individuals and a society must work out how to respond. A museum can help people to understand these issues to help people to make up their own minds in an informed way.
Moving from gatekeepers to enabling access and building communities.
Not so long ago museums were essentially gatekeepers, choosing from all of the wonderful things they have access to, which will be on display. Now that access can be provided digitally, the issue becomes more one of making these valuable resources more accessible and visible, and building communities to share perspectives.
Museums as media organizations.
During the discussions it struck me that museums are basically media organizations, providing and editing (i.e. curating) content. Exactly the same issues apply, including that of whether to control or open out the editorial process.
From interacting with exhibits to interacting with people.
A great interactive exhibit is one that makes people visiting the museum to interact with each other. There are many fabulous technologies that can take the old push-button style of interactive exhibits into an entirely new dimension. However building live and asynchronous social networks on many levels is really where interactivity needs to go. Both stimulating and enabling conversations is where museum interactivity needs to go.
I think the issues facing museums are extremely interesting, and relevant across a far broader domain, as they fundamentally deal with the intersection of the virtual and physical in our experiences. Despite the rise of the virtual, there is extraordinary value in physical artefacts. To move into the future we absolutely need to understand and draw on our past. Physical objects are the crystallized manifestations of our collective thoughts and history. Museums are on an extraordinary journey which will see many thrive, and often look very different to how they do today. http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2008/05/thinking_about.html

So, SAM literally has to decide what does it want to be when it grows up.

Looking at attendance figures, SAM is one of the top museums in the country. See, Top 100 Arts and Culture Museum Ranking https://sites.google.com/site/silviaresanswers/Home/top-100-arts-and-culture-museum-ranking According to the Art Career Project, SAM is number six in the list of 30 Must-See Art Museums In The U.S:

6. Seattle Art Museum – Seattle, Wash.
The museum actually owns and operates three separate facilities, including the main museum, the Asian Art Museum located in the city’s Capitol Hill, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront. All three are tremendous visits and are home to some magnificent works of art. The collection has more than 20,000 works and few museums can boast such a impressive array of different types, from every corner of the world.
Three to see:
Olympic Sculpture Park
Not only is the scenery surrounding the park a breathtaking sight to behold, but admission is free and the sculptures on display are awe-inspiring. The Eagle by Alexander Calder may be the most famous part of the collection, but don’t miss the Eye Benches, some of the most unique sculptures you will ever see.
The Art Ladder
Chances are if you visit the museum, you can’t miss the “Art Ladder” and its monstrous statues. Just make sure not to pass them by so quickly. The area is free to walk around and the statues are impressive in their size and craftsmanship.
Colors of the Oasis
http://www.theartcareerproject.com/30-must-see-art-museums-in-the-u-s/1044/#sthash.UG2EJ89g.ZPNuo6C5.dpuf

SAM is nationally and internationally recognized for the quality of its presentations, so why this fork in the road talk?

Christopher Knight wrote in the 2007 LA Times article, With new space, Seattle Art Museum expands its vision:

When the Seattle Art Museum turns 75 next year, it intends to be not only the most important general art museum in the Pacific Northwest but to be nationally prominent too. It might just get its wish…

The museum’s regional rank has been secure for years, but mostly by default. The competition is slim.

Even now, if your idea of a first-rate general art museum is one that’s stuffed with European painting and sculpture dating from ancient Greece and Rome to the rambunctious launch of the 20th century, the Seattle Art Museum is not for you. Two of its long-standing strengths are African art and Northwest coastal Native American art. The small European collection is mostly mediocre and not remotely comprehensive. There’s great porcelain, but you won’t find a Picasso painting.

If you’re willing to shift conventional expectations, though, you’ll discover a museum that has been smartly rethinking itself in recent years. What’s new is this larger aspiration….

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-seattleart2may02,0,4475141.story#axzz2l2RvTWDM

Back in 2007 SAM had big aspirations, now the question is where are those aspirations leading?

Charity Navigator has some very interesting information about SAM. Here is some balance sheet information:

Income Statement (FYE 06/2012)

REVENUE

Contributions

Contributions, Gifts & Grants

$5,768,913

Federated Campaigns

$447,253

Membership Dues

$4,897,027

Fundraising Events

$438,145

Related Organizations

$294,013

Government Grants

$403,865

Total Contributions

$12,249,216

Program Service Revenue

$4,242,610

Total Primary Revenue

$16,491,826

Other Revenue

$8,023,516

TOTAL REVENUE

$24,515,342

EXPENSES

Program Expenses

$21,173,594

Administrative Expenses

$11,769,768

Fundraising Expenses

$2,482,792

TOTAL FUNCTIONAL EXPENSES

$35,426,154

Payments to Affiliates

$0

Excess (or Deficit) for the year

$-10,910,812

Net Assets

$240,796,053

See the full report at http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4449#.UosW_B7Tldh

Judith Dobrzynski wrote in the New York Times article, How an Acquisition Fund Burnishes Reputations:

Although acquiring art is a core mission, private collectors donate 80 to 90 percent of what is on view in American art museums. Fewer than two dozen museums have sizable nest eggs to buy the art they choose.

A few more, notably the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, are wealthy enough to buy steadily by drawing on unrestricted endowments, but have no special funds for acquisitions. Most of the time, when art museums find an object they desire, “we find someone who’s willing to support that acquisition,” said Dan L. Monroe, director of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass.

In lean times like these, when museums are budgeting to the razor’s edge, those with pools for art purchases enjoy a distinct advantage — they are not permitted to use the money, usually about 5 percent of the principal each year, for anything but buying art…

Who has money set aside for buying art, and who does not, has more to do with a museum’s benefactors than with its size or location. The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, N.H., has more than four times what the Seattle Museum of Art has: $35 million versus less than $7.8 million. That is because Henry Melville Fuller, a trustee, upon his death in 2001 left the Currier $43 million, half designated for the art purchase fund….http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/15/arts/artsspecial/a-fund-for-buying-art-burnishes-collections-and-reputations.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

In terms of acquisitions, the question for most museums is how do we get there from here?

SAM is a much loved institution in Seattle and the upcoming strategic plan analysis must look at a number of issues, but most important is where does the museum go as it looks ahead to the next 85 years.

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Dr. Wilda Reviews Seattle Art Museum’ 2014 – 2015 seasons: SAM is at a fork in the road

The 07/04/13 Joy Jar

4 Jul

Typically, when one writes about the 4th of July, one writes about the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Moi also writes about those things. Today, all three locations of the Seattle Art Museum were FREE, FREE, FREE. Moi took advantage of that and went to all three, the Asian Museum at Volunteer Park, the Sculpture Garden on the waterfront, and SAM downtown. Talk about a feast for the eyes, the brain, the intellect, and the soul. That got moi thinking about artistic freedom. Mfiles writes about Dmitri Shostakovich, the great Russian composer:

Dmitri Shostakovich was born in St. Petersburg (now Leningrad) and died in Moscow. His entire musical career was therefore spent within Russia’s Communist system, and in many ways it is clear that he had to strike a balance between his own artistic inclinations and the demands of the state. He was taught by Glazunov among others, learning piano and composition and graduating from the St. Petersburg (Petrograd) Conservatory at the age of 19 with his first symphony. This is a youthful, precocious work demonstrating his musical talents in no uncertain terms, with some similarities in approach to Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony.
Though this was an early success, his music didn’t always enjoy the approval of the Soviet authorities. His opera “The Nose” received some criticism and “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” received oven more. In later years he was to enjoy more artistic freedom, but under Stalin composers and other artists ran the risk of their work being labelled anti-state “formalism”. In some cases this could lead to “disappearances” so the threat was very real indeed. Shostakovich withdrew his 4th symphony before its premier for this reason and it wasn’t performed until later under more liberal times. Some of Shostakovich’s work seems to be simply paying his dues as an upright citizen but in many cases, although his music might outwardly be conforming with the party line, there is nevertheless the feeling that he is rebelling against this…. http://www.mfiles.co.uk/composers/Dmitri-Shostakovich.htm

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is artistic freedom.

“It is impossible to be truly artistic without the risk of offending someone somewhere.”
Wayne Gerard Trotman

There is no must in art because art is free.
Wassily Kandinsky

An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, a prisoner of style, a prisoner of reputation, or a prisoner of success.
Henri Matisse

To blossom forth, a work of art must ignore or rather forget all the rules.

Pablo Picasso

When there is no freedom, there is no creativity.

Soud Qbeilat

Art is to be creative without any rules or limitations, it is somewhere where freedom can be found.

Salwa Zahid

A work of art is a scream of freedom.

Christo

The creator’s eye is watching us and blessing all of our creativity and hopefully hiding from us our shortcomings, so that we are more free to really blast about the dirt yard with our compositions, our canvases, writing pens, singing a new anthem to the Universe, one that will proclaim that our artistry will save us, the planet, the people… Mankind is One, God is One… let us all agree at least on that.

Sonya Bennett

A free spirit takes liberties even with liberty itself.

Francis Picabia

An artist discovers his genius the day he dares not to please.

André Malraux

Here’s to freedom, cheers to art. Here’s to having an excellent adventure and may the stopping never start.
Jason Mraz

Art is the journey of a free soul.
Alev Oguz

Dr. Wilda Reviews: Seattle Art Museum’s ‘Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion’

30 Jun

Moi had the great pleasure of attending the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) press preview for Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion which runs June 27 – September 8 at SAM Downtown in Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries. This exhibit was organized by the Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI) and London’s Barbican Art Gallery in collaboration with SAM Seattle whichis one of two U.S. cities which will host this exhibit. After leaving Seattle, the exhibit will go to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Japanese fashion historian, Akiko Fukai , who is the Chief Curator of the KCI is the curator. All moi can say is, we are so very blessed. For fashionistas on the West Coast, it is definitely worth traveling to Seattle to see. Moi would describe the experience as being treated to some very expensive Cognac. It is not something one gets every day, but once treated to the experience, the Cognac is savored. Once the Cognac is drunk, you know that you might not have appreciated all the subtle notes.

The exhibit is “ structured in a combination of thematic and monographic sections.” The first section is influenced by In Praise of Shadows:

.an essay on Japanese aesthetics by the Japanese author and novelist Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. It was translated into English by the academic students of Japanese literature Thomas Harper and Edward Seidensticker.

The essay consists of 16 sections that discuss traditional Japanese aesthetics in contrast with change. Comparisons of light with darkness are used to contrast Western and Asian cultures. The West, in its striving for progress, is presented as continuously searching for light and clarity, while the subtle and subdued forms of oriental art and literature are seen by Tanizaki to represent an appreciation of shadow and subtlety, closely relating to the traditional Japanese concept of sabi. In addition to contrasting light and dark, Tanizaki further considers the layered tones of various kinds of shadows and their power to reflect low sheen materials like gold embroidery, patina and cloudy crystals. In addition, he distinguishes between the values of gleam and shine.              ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Praise_of_Shadows

The other sections have the themes of Flatness, Tradition and Innovation, and Cool Japan. One is of course wowed by the designs, but the real story is CREATIVITY and INNOVATION in the imagining of how fabrics can be used in design. Another thought moi had was that those who wear these fashions are probably very confident and sure of themselves and their relationship to the world.

This show is really one of those that you have to see in person because one will not be able to grasp the subtle and nuanced way in which some very exceptional fabrics are used in design. Sometimes fashion is simply eye candy and there certainly are those pieces in the collection. There are also those pieces that jar the senses and ask one to think about what role fashion has or should have. Is fashion important and what does beauty really mean? This is a beautifully displayed collection of designs displaying a particularly cultural take on the question of what is good design. Moi highly recommends this show.

The Japanese External Trade Organization describes the Fashion History of Japan:

Japanese fashion reached a turning point in the 70’s. Pr?t-a-porter (ready-made clothing) which people could wear more easily than haute couture, became widely available and that drastically changed Japanese fashion. Japan was in the middle of a high economic growth period and strong personal consumption backed the situation. Hanae Mori, Kenzo Takada, and Issei Miyake received attention internationally in the 1970’s.

Kenzo Takada established The House of KENZO in Paris in 1970 and opened his own boutique “Jangle Jap” there. He then started participating in the Paris Pr?t-a-porter Collection and his colorful, pretty and dynamic folklore look, big look, and layered look quickly became popular. Issei Miyake also started showing in Paris the Pret-a-porter Collection in 1973. Hanae Mori had her first show in New York in 1965 and then opened her maison de haute couture in Paris in 1977 and joined the Paris Haute Couture Collection. At the same time, Sayoko Yamaguchi, a Japanese fashion model, became very popular in the Paris Collection with her bob hair and makeup which emphasized her long-slitted eyes.

In the 80’s, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto received high recognition internationally. Their “boro look” which was loose black clothes ripped and frayed, brought sensational controversy in Paris, but their clothes then gave influence to the fashion after the period. Kawakubo and Yamamoto’s clothes matched to the mood of the 80’s when clothes with strong impressions were considered to be interesting. Their avant garde and dress-down approach had carved out new possibilities of fashion. It was an era when Japanese fashion bolstered a unique and original image which would shake the general idea of Western clothes. Kawakubo and Yamamoto’s deconstructed and sexless clothes later influenced designers in Belgium such as Martin Margiela.

In 1985, the Council of Fashion Designers, Tokyo (CFD) was established with 32 designers and then the Tokyo Collection was started. The DC (Designer Character) boom in the 80’s helped to energize the Tokyo Collection. In addition to designer’s brands which had been recognized internationally as high-end brands since the 70’s, character brands referred to brands which were more affordable yet very fashion trend conscious. Many character brands such as Bigi, Nicole, Atelier Sab, Pink House, and Takeo Kikuchi swept the Japanese market. Strong economic growth referred to as a “bubble” intensified the movement.

Noritaka TatehanaShortly after the 90’s started, the economic bubble burst and casual fashion became the mainstream fashion trend. In addition to “Shibukaji” which meant casual fashion originated from Shibuya in Tokyo in the end of the 80’s, “kogyaru” which referred to high school girls with loose socks, “chapatsu” ( brown hair), and “ganguro” (face with black foundation or strongly tanned) gained power in Shibuya. Street fashion in Tokyo started to get attention even from the international media and Shibuya and Harajuku especially became recognized as sources for fashion trend. “Ura Hara” which referred to the back streets in Harajuku, also became popular as a trendy fashion area. Jun Takahashi who is the designer of Under Cover originated from “Ura Hara” and he joined the Tokyo Collection in the middle of the 90’s and later started showing in Paris with the 2003 Spring Summer collection. Shibuya 109 (ichi maru kyuu), which is a building with many fashion brand tenants such as Egoist, Cocolulu, Moussy and Cecil McBEE, became very popular among young women in their teens and 20’s and the sexy and pretty fashion was called “maru kyuu fashion.”

When 21st Century started, more Japanese designers such as Chisato Tsumori, Junya Watanabe, Chitose Abe (Sacai), Limi Yamamoto (Limi Feu) started showing in the Paris Collection. In New York, “Japan Fashion Now” which was started in September in 2010 at the FIT Museum extended the term for three more months to the beginning of April in 2011 due to the popular demand. Among the featured designers in the exhibition, Under Cover, designed by Jun Takahashi was particularly favorite among the visitors. Noritaka Tatehana, who launched his shoes brand “NORITAKA TATEHANA” in 2010 quickly became famous as the pop singer Lady Gaga wore his highly distinctive shoes with no heels. His collection pieces are all handmade by the designer himself who has a back ground of creating kimono and wooden clogs utilizing yu-zen dying. Among the veteran designers, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons still actively inspires the world of fashion not only with her collection each season, but also her concept stores Dover Street Market, which are in London as well as in Ginza, Tokyo. Rei Kawakubo was chosen to be awarded for the international design from CFDA, Council of Fashion Designers of America in June, 2012. http://www.jetro.org/fashion_history_of_japan

Here is the press release from Seattle Art Museum:

For Immediate Release

Contact: Wendy Malloy, SAM Public Relations
(206) 654-3151; email:
PR@SeattleArtMuseum.org

Seattle Art Museum Presents Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion

Comprehensive survey of avant-garde Japanese fashion
Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion
June 27–September 8, 2013


SEATTLE, May 6, 2013 – This summer Seattle Art Museum (SAM) presents
Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion featuring more than 100 costumes by celebrated and original designers including Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo, and Yohji Yamamoto as well as younger designers influenced by popular culture and the dynamic street life of Tokyo.

This exciting exhibition, on view at the Seattle Art Museum June 27–September 8, 2013, highlights the tremendous innovation of Japanese fashion designers from the early 1980s to the present who revolutionized the way we think of fashion today. The designs reflect a range of influences from Japanese aesthetics, reinterpretations of Western couture, punk aesthetics and Japanese street fashion.

I am delighted that the Seattle Art Museum is the first museum in the United States to share this fascinating and influential period in design history and to present this stunning collection from the Kyoto Costume Institute.” said Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director.

Curated by the eminent Japanese fashion historian Akiko Fukai, Director/Chief Curator, the Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI), the exhibition explores the distinctive sensibility of Japanese design and its sense of beauty embodied in clothing. Bringing together over 100 garments from the last three decades—some never seen before in the United States—the exhibition also includes films of notable catwalk shows and documentaries.

The exhibition shows how Japanese fashion design launched itself on the world stage in the 1980s,” said Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art.

Japanese fashion designers at that time developed breathtaking aesthetic positions that subsequently influenced a younger generation of Western designers including Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and Alexander McQueen.”

The first Japanese designers who gained recognition in the West were Kenzo Takada and Issey Miyake in the 1970s. But the 1980s were the decade when Japanese designers forcefully made their mark. Traditionally, Western women’s fashion was and still is concerned with seductively packaging and unveiling the body.

Symmetry of the silhouette is one of Western fashion’s defining characteristics. But a legendary spring/summer show in Paris for the 1983 collection was a stark departure from such familiar positions. Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto were the designers who put forth a stark new aesthetic based on monochrome black and white colors and they presented asymmetrical, and above all artfully perforated and ripped designs that were deconstructive and the antithesis of a fitted gown.

The exhibition is structured in a combination of thematic and monographic sections:

The first thematic section, In Praise of Shadows, explores the Japanese designers’ interest in materials, textures and forms, and consciousness of light and shade. Most of the designs in this section are in black and white and revisit the moment when these minimal aesthetic proposals were first introduced to European audiences in the early 1980s. The costumes in this section include designs by Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, and Junya Watanabe.

The second section is Flatness and explores the simple geometries and interplay of flatness and volume in the work of Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo. This section includes a series of specially commissioned striking photographs by Japanese artist and photographer Naoya Hatakeyama.

In the next section the relationship between Tradition and Innovation is considered—from the radical reinvention of traditional Japanese garments and techniques, such as kimono and origami, to the technological advances in textile fabrication and treatment. It includes a series of paper garments by OhYa and Mintdesigns; Watanabe’s seminal autumn/winter 2000 collection Techno Couture; examples of Kawakubo’s deconstructionist work; as well as modern takes on traditional Japanese techniques and garments by Yamamoto, Kenzo and Matohu.

The final section focuses on the phenomenon that is Cool Japan. Featuring works by Tao Kurihara, Jun Takahashi for Undercover and Naoki Takizawa, among others. Cool Japan examines the symbiotic relationship between street style, popular culture and high fashion.

The exhibition also includes monographic presentations on each of the principle designers in the show featuring a range of archive and recent works: Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe, and Jun Takahashi (Undercover).

Following its visit to Seattle, Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion will travel to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., where it will be on view November 16, 2013 through January 26, 2014.

Seattle Art Museum

SAM is one museum in three locations: SAM Downtown, Seattle Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront. SAM collects, preserves and exhibits objects from across time and across cultures, exploring the dynamic connections between past and present.

Kyoto Costume Institue (KCI)

Established in 1978 by Wacoal Corp., KCI is one of Japan’s leading repositories of historical costumes and contemporary fashion with a collection of over eleven thousand works. KCI has organized critically acclaimed fashion exhibitions around the world, including Ancien Régime and Japonism in Fashion, and generated important publications such as Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century; Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute (Taschen, 2002).

Exhibition originally conceived by the Kyoto Costume Institute and Barbican Art Gallery, London. Seattle Exhibition organized by Kyoto Costume Institute in collaboration with the Seattle Art Museum. Exhibition supported by Wacoal Corp.

Presenting sponsor is Seattle Art Museum Supporters. Major sponsor is 4Culture King County Lodging Tax. Additional support provided by the Japan Foundation and the Max and Helen Gurvich Exhibition Endowment. Print media sponsor is Seattle Weekly. Retail partner is Pacific Place.

Contemporary and modern art programs at SAM are supported by a generous group of donors in honor of Bagley Wright.

Moi highly recommends this show. It is worth traveling to see.

Resources:

Brief History of Japanese Clothing                           http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/articles/japanese-articles/a-brief-history-of-japanese-clothing.html

Elements of Japanese Design                              http://www.thecultureconcept.com/circle/elements-of-japanese-design

FASHION JAPAN

Magazine on Japanese street fashion, runway fashion and street culture.

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The 06/25/13 Joy Jar

25 Jun

 

Moi had the great pleasure of attending ’30 Years of Japanese Fashion’ at the Seattle Art Museum. It was simply a stunning show. The fact that 100 pieces of exquisite haute couture were exhibited in one place for the public to see was amazing. That is what museums do, they amaze us with things few of us could acquire and many of us would never see. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ are museums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside museums, in noisy public squares, people look at people. Inside museums, we leave that realm and enter what might be called the group-mind, getting quiet to look at art.
Jerry Saltz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In museums and palaces we are alternate radicals and conservatives.
Henry James

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In poetically well built museums, formed from the heart’s compulsions, we are consoled not by finding in them old objects that we love, but by losing all sense of Time.”
Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Museums have no political power, but they do have the possibility of influencing the political process. This is a complete change from their role in the early days of collecting and hoarding the world to one of using the collections as an archive for a changing world. This role is not merely scientifically important, but it is also a cultural necessity.”
Richard Fortey, Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life Of The Natural History Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Museum is not meant either for the wanderer to see by accident or for the pilgrim to see with awe. It is meant for the mere slave of a routine of self-education to stuff himself with every sort of incongruous intellectual food in one indigestible meal.” Chesterton, Gilbert K. on museums and galleries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world.

 

Edmond De Goncourt quotes 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give me a museum and I’ll fill it.

 

Pablo Picasso

 

The 06/09/13 Joy Jar

9 Jun

 

Moi will be going to the ’30 Years of Japanese Fashion’ exhibit at Seattle Art Museum at the end of the month. To beef up her fashion chops moi went to the movie, ‘Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorfs’ which was a hoot and really showed the creativity of high fashion and those famous windows at Bergdorfs. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the creativity of high fashion.

“I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people would perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it.”

Alexander McQueen

“The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.”

Diana Vreeland

“Fashions fade, style is eternal.”

Yves Saint-Laurent

“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live.”

Gianni Versace

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

Coco Chanel

“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades.”

Audrey Hepburn

“I have always believed that fashion was not only to make women more beautiful, but also to reassure them, give them confidence.”

Yves Saint Laurent

You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
Oscar Wilde