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The Call of the East

30 min
18 station
The Call of the East

Japonisme as Reflected in the Prints of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy

 

For several centuries, Japan was almost completely isolated from other countries, both commercially and diplomatically, and its ports were not opened until the mid-nineteenth century. The subsequent sharp increase in trade brought many Japanese artworks to the West, which had a huge impact on artists in Europe. The radically new and inspirational Japanese approach gave rise to Japonisme in fine and applied arts, theatre and music, literature and fashion. In the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, this style flourished after diplomatic relations with Japan were formalised in 1869.

The motifs and the compositional and technical characteristics that most influenced European artists can be found in the themes of Japanese woodblock prints – nature (landscapes, plants and animals) and portraits (geishas, actors and courtesans) – and on items of Japanese applied art. These features include the Japanese handling of colour, so different from the European tradition, and their use of two-dimensionality, close-up perspectives, and decorative contours and elements. Japonisme first emerged in London, Paris and Munich, and artists in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy obtained their initial knowledge of the style from these centres; many built up their own collections of Japanese woodblock prints, and some even had the opportunity to travel to Japan. By the 1890s, Japanese artistic forms and Western Japonisme had become part of Art Nouveau and the Secession.

This exhibition focuses on the Japanese inspiration that played a key role in the rebirth of woodcut art in the main cities of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Katsushika Taito II: Maple Branch and Sparrow, Japan, 19th century, Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

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Unknown artist: Mouse on Lumber, Japan, first half of the 19th century, Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

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Unknown artist: Boy with a Fan, Japan, second half of the 19th century, Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

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Utagawa Hiroshige III: Sukiya Bridge. From the series Famous places in Tokyo, 5th month of 1869, Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

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Katsushika Hokusai: Rooster, Hen and Peonies, Japan, Edo, between 1820 and 1833, Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

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Utagawa Kunisada: The high-ranking courtesan (oiran) called Jade from the House of the Ten Thousand Characters of Joyful Reunion, mid-19th century, Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

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Katagami (textile stencil) with coniferous or bare willow branch pattern, Japan, second half of the 19th century, Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

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Emil Orlik: A Gust of Wind, 1901, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Béla Erdőssy: At the Waterside, 1912, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Gyula Conrad: Twilight in Winter, 1906, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Béla Erdőssy: The Autumn, 1909, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Emil Orlik: Triptych: Japanese Painter (Kanō Tomonobu), Japanese Woodcutter, Japanese Printer, 1900-1902, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Emil Orlik: Rickshaw Drivers, 1900, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Hugo Henneberg: Yellow Tulips, before 1904, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Jenő Edvi Illés: Flowers, 1913, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Norbertine Bresslern-Roth: Toucans, n. d., Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Ludwig H. Jungnickel: Marabous, 1913, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Walther Klemm: Turkeys, 1906, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Walther Klemm: Turkeys, 1908, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Carl Theodor Thiemann: Swans, 1907, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Károly Józsa: Swans, before 1909, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Hans Neumann: The Aristocrat, 1904, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Hans Neumann: Seagulls, 1904, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Jenő Herzig: Rooster with Hens, ca. 1904, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Jenő Herzig: The Cats, ca. 1904, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Gyula Conrad: Watering, 1908, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Carl Theodor Thiemann: Birch Trees, 1907, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Dezső Tipary: Crossing the Bridge, 1908, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Gyula Conrad: Suburb of Munich, 1907, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Carl Moll: Print from the portfolio Beethoven’s Houses, 1907, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Carl Moll: Print from the portfolio Beethoven’s Houses, 1907, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Viktor Olgyai: Small Village in the Snow, 1907, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Carl Theodor Thiemann: Evening in Venice, 1911, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Gyula Conrad: On Quiet Waters, 1906, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Walther Klemm: Fishing Boat on the Bank of the Spree, 1906, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Emil Orlik: In the Evening, Print from the portfolio From Japan, 1904, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Emil Orlik: Rainy Day in Kyoto, Prints from the portfolio From Japan, 1904, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Emil Orlik: The Courtesan, Print from the portfolio From Japan, 1904, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Emil Orlik: Writing Girl, Print from the portfolio From Japan, 1904, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Gyula Conrad: Girl from Mezőkövesd, 1910, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Max Kurzweil The Pillow, 1903, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Lucien Pissarro: The Queen of the Fishes, 1894, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

The Bath

Felix Vallotton: The Bath, 1894, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Felix Vallotton: The Demonstration, 1893, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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Gyula Tichy: Moment and Millennium, 1909, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Gyula Tichy Diana and Actaeon, 1910–1912, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Gyula Tichy: Girl in the Andrássy Avenue, ca. 1910, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Andor Dobai Székely: The Mirror, ca. 1909, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

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Leopold Stolba: The Evening, 1906, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Stations

  • Images of Nature
  • Look Closer!
  • People as Ornament
  • Kazari – The Path Towards a Different Kind of Existence
  • The Impact of Japanese Woodblock Prints on European Art
  • Emil Orlik and the Japanese Woodcut
  • Emil Orlik in Japan
  • The World Without People: Landscapes, Plants and Animals
  • Hans Neumann
  • Norbertine Bresslern-Roth
  • Walther Klemm
  • Carl Theodor Thiemann
  • Viktor Olgyai
  • Carl Moll
  • Gyula Conrad
  • The Exoticness and Decorativeness of the Human Figure
  • Max Kurzweil
  • Gyula Tichy

Images of Nature

Images of Nature

Unlike in European art, where, until the mid-nineteenth century, the hierarchy of the genres gave supremacy to history painting and portraiture, Japanese art was dominated by images of the coexistence of plants, animals and natural phenomena. The Shinto religion, based on respect for the transcendental that is present everywhere in nature, presupposes a fundamental acceptance of the beauty inherent in the small things, in evanescence and imperfection, in the ordinary and the unpredictable. We can only truly understand the surface of a tree trunk or the pattern of a creature’s fur by leaning in closely, the colours of a bird’s plumage or the shades of autumn leaves by concentrating on them at length, and the beauty of landscapes, compositions created by nature, by observing them from a proper distance and from multiple viewpoints. The intimate, personal nature of Japanese artworks that demand the active participation of the vieweris also reflected in European depictions of nature produced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katsushika Taito II

Maple Branch and Sparrows

Colour woodblock print on Japanese paper

Japan, 19th century

Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

 

Look Closer!

Look Closer!

Depictions in Japanese woodblock prints are characterised by their balanced compositions and by the use of daring structural devices. Bold diagonal lines and truncated picture planes not only direct the viewer’s eye, but also connect the viewer’s reality with the two-dimensional surface. Great care was taken to highlight the essential elements and to eliminate the unnecessary ones, for example, the background, while the proportion between the blank and filled parts of the surface was also meticulously planned. The boundaries of two-dimensional depiction were stretched by decorating surfaces with three-dimensional effects, such as embossing, or by “wrapping” objects in physical motifs. In the eyes of Europeans at the end of the nineteenth century, these features elevated Japanese artisans to the level of master craftsmen, turning them into examples worth following.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Utagawa Hiroshige III

Sukiya Bridge. From the series Famous places in Tokyo

Colour woodblock print on Japanese paper

Japan, 5th month of 1869

Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

People as Ornament

People as Ornament

Ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”) is the genre of Japanese woodblock prints dealing with the pleasures of everyday life. These sheets, printed in multiple colours, portrayed actors, geishas, courtesans (oirans) and sumo wrestlers, or depicted festivals, historical events and episodes from works of literature. Humour, violence and eroticism were integral to the themes of such prints, which, with their daring compositions and rich colouring and patterns, formed an organic part of everyday consumer culture. Often used as posters, and destined mostly for an ephemeral existence, these prints were elevated into manifestations of adoration towards the people portrayed. They were produced in hundreds or even thousands of copies, but as fashions quickly changed, only a few of the many outstanding quality prints have survived to the present. The column-like silhouette, and the way in which the figures are shown bending in an arc or an S-shape, or in a posture that Western eyes would have found unusual (crouching, standing with legs apart, seated on the ground), added a touch of decorativeness to the people in the prints. Their facial features were not individualised, but they could be interpreted with the help of symbols and inscriptions. These woodblock prints were not intended as portraits, but as allusions to beauty, either experienced in the past, or desired in the future.

 

Utagawa Kunisada

The high-ranking courtesan (oiran) called Jade from the House of the Ten Thousand Characters of Joyful Reunion

Colour woodblock print on Japanese paper

Japan, mid-19th century

Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

Kazari – The Path Towards a Different Kind of Existence

Kazari – The Path Towards a Different Kind of Existence

The term kazari, which means “to decorate, to adorn”, has been present in Japanese art since ancestral times. The decorative motifs applied to household items, textiles, dining utensils, furniture and even weapons were intended to relieve the user from the monotony of everyday life. Artists – by decorating themselves and their surroundings – turned the special events, such as meetings, religious or profane ceremonies, or even battles, into something especially memorable and momentous. Japanese art is distinguished not only by its purity and simplicity, but also by its wealth of patterning, its accumulation of ornamentation, colour harmonies that are unusual to Western eyes, and its combined use of organic and geometric forms.

 

Katagami (textile stencil) with coniferous or bare willow branch pattern

Mulberry paper and silk thread

Japan, second half of the 19th century

Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Budapest

The Impact of Japanese Woodblock Prints on European Art

The Impact of Japanese Woodblock Prints on European Art

East and West were brought together at the World’s Fairs held in the second half of the nineteenth century, for example, in London (1862), Paris (1867) and Vienna (1873), which acted like a revelation on huge crowds of people. These exhibitions generated enormous interest in, among other things, Japanese woodblock prints, and this soon prompted artists to adopt oriental visual solutions in their own works. Progressively minded artists found inspiration in the fact that certain aspects of Japanese woodblock prints reflected their own aesthetic ideals: simplified colouring, bold cropping, and a decorative overall effect, with an emphasis on contours and an avoidance of modelling and perspective. French and British artists often incorporated elements of the Japanese style into their works, together with the spontaneity and dynamism of impressionism. As stylisation increased towards the end of the century, the more abstract approach in Japanese works also appeared. Prints that combined both Western and Eastern elements exerted their influence on artists in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, often without them even realising where certain visual solutions originated from. In this region, then, Japonisme simultaneously reflected both the approach of Eastern art, which despite its long history was still seen as something fresh in Europe, and the latest endeavours of contemporary Western art.

 

 

Lucien Pissarro

The Queen of the Fishes, 1894

Colour woodcut on paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Emil Orlik and the Japanese Woodcut

Emil Orlik and the Japanese Woodcut

Emil Orlik first travelled to Japan in 1900 in order to study the Japanese technique of woodblock printing, which differed from the European method. One of the differences is illustrated by this work, which was made in the Japanese manner while he was still travelling. In European woodcuts, the artist cuts the composition in wood, then applies the dye and prints it on paper. In Japan, however, the centuries-old tradition separates the roles: the painter composes the image, then the engraver makes the woodblocks (as many blocks as there will be colours in the finished print), and finally a printer applies the pigmentand transfers the image to paper. In Japan, water-based paints are applied not with a roller, but with a brush, which allows greater translucency and more subtle transitions of colour. The print is not made in a press in Japan. Instead, the printer places the special handmade paper onto the woodblock and then smooths it down using a small hand tool, until it has absorbed the pigment. For the next print of the same composition, new pigment is applied to the woodblock, so it would be possible to print each sheet of paper using a differen colour palette.

 

Emil Orlik

Triptych: Japanese Painter (Kanō Tomonobu), Japanese Woodcutter, Japanese Printer, 1900-1902

Colour woodcut on Japanese paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

 

Emil Orlik in Japan

Emil Orlik in Japan

An avid traveller throughout his life, Emil Orlik set off for Japan in March 1900, intending to gain first-hand knowledge of the distant nation’s culture and people, and the woodblock printing technique used by Japanese masters. He spen almost ten months in Japan, during which time he began to learn the language, he worked as a junior apprentice to some elderly masters, and besides visiting the major cities, he also ventured to parts of the country where Europeans had rarely been seen before, if ever. After his return home, he published enthusiastic writings and delivered presentations illustrated with pictures, while passing on the Japanese woodblock technique to others and using it to produce countless prints on Japanese themes. He sought to mix the Japanese tradition with his own European way of seeing things, which resulted in works that were not simply imitations of Japanese art, but Western interpretations of the Far East. In 1904, he published a portfolio of prints dealing with his memories of Japan, executed using two different techniques: lithography, which originated in Paris and enjoyed a revival around the turn of the century, and colour etching, which he had learnt as a student in Munich. Creating with Japanese sensitivity and European meticulousness, his images of portrait-like faces and unique situations are masterpiece fusions of two contrasting visual cultures.

 

 

Emil Orlik

Rainy Day in Kyoto, Print from the portfolio From Japan, 1904

Colour etching and lithograph on paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

The World Without People: Landscapes, Plants and Animals

The World Without People: Landscapes, Plants and Animals

Among the typical genres of Japanese woodblock prints, landscapes and depictions of plants and animals were particular favourites among the artists ofthe Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, for they enabled them to express the latent decorativeness of nature in the language of the Secession and Art Nouveau. Whereas certain motifs in Japanese images had religious or philosophical connotations, in European works from this period, the same motifs – swans, colourful birds, willow trees and rippling, reflecting surfaces of water – were included for their beauty, and they featured in pieces by almost every woodcut printmaker who followed the Japanese style. The interest in landscapes was fuelled in part by the stylised landscapes of postimpressionism, which were becoming known in this part of the world around the turn of the century, whose influence was reinforced and disseminated further by the Munich Sezession. For artists in the region, who studied mostly in Munich or Vienna, the outskirts of these cities provided opportunities for rustic themes, with their uncluttered streets and their zoos; the School of Applied Arts in Vienna even maintained its own poultry yard. Some of the artists who were especially devoted to such themes spent lengthy periods of time at the art colony in Dachau, which had been run by landscape painters from Munich for decades, and where a group of Japanese-style woodcut artists now emerged.

 

Walther Klemm

Turkeys, 1906

Colour woodcut on paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

 

Hans Neumann

Hans Neumann

Artists in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, as elsewhere in Europe, often took their inspiration from the modern art movements that emerged from France and England. The most influential centre of art in this part of the world was Munich, which was close to Vienna, Budapest and Prague. The Bavarian capital was one of the main centres of the printmaking revival that took place in the early 1900s, which included new interest in woodcuts, mostly due to the influence of Japanese woodblock prints. A defining figure in this new printmaking movement was Hans Neumann. His elder brother, Ernst Neumann, opened a printmaking school in Munich in 1900, where the latest woodcut techniques were also taught. In Hans Neumann’s sheets, human figures and animals appear as decorative motifs, constructed out of pale and delicate patches of colour, unseparated by contours. According to the author of an essay published in 1905, the shades of blue and grey used by Neumann were the most characteristic aspects of the Japanese style of woodcut in Munich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hans Neumann

Seagulls, 1904

Colour woodcut on Japanese paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Norbertine Bresslern-Roth

Norbertine Bresslern-Roth

Having studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Norbertine Bresslern-Roth built her career as a painter and printmaker on depictions of animals. Around 1910, she paid several visits to the art colony in Dachau, where she could study nature up close, but the exotic creatures in her works demonstrate that the starting point for her compositions often came from foreign depictions. She came into contact with the Japanese technique of woodblock printing through Walther Klemm. Like her fellow Austrian, Ludwig Jungnickel, Bresslern-Roth was a virtuosa at transforming her animal portrayals into ornamental forms while maintaining their realism. Despite her use of Japanese-style colours, cropping, bold stylisation and surface forming, her Western roots are visible in the way she filled space in her images, and in her atmospheric elements. The influence of oriental art on her works was later combined with expressionist devices, which further accentuated the emotional power of her art.

 

Norbertine Bresslern-Roth

Toucans, n. d.

Colour woodcut on paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Walther Klemm

Walther Klemm

One of the most outstanding masters of Japanese-style colour woodcuts, with one of the largest outputs, was the Sudeten German, Bohemian-born Walther Klemm. In Vienna, he studied under Kolo Moser at the School of Applied Arts, where he met his compatriot, Emil Orlik, who introduced him to the Japanese technique of woodblock printing, and whose style had a great influence on him. In 1905 he returned to Bohemia, where he collaborated with Carl Theodor Thiemann in Libotz (Liboc), in Prague. Details of the old town, its streets and its courtyards were recorded in a series of colour woodcuts, numbering a hundred sheets. In 1908, Klemm and Thiemann left Prague and moved to Dachau, which resulted in a sharp change in both their styles. Klemm gave up landscapes in favour of pictures of animals, conceived in the style of his Viennese masters and Japanese woodblock prints. His square or almost square sheets now featured strongly stylised close-ups of precisely observed motifs, usually poultry, printed in bold colours.

 

Walther Klemm

Fishing Boat on the Bank of the Spree, 1906

Colour woodcut on paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Carl Theodor Thiemann

Carl Theodor Thiemann

One of the most important exponents of the Japanese-style woodcut in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was Carl Theodor Thiemann. He learnt the woodcut technique from Walther Klemm, whom he met in Prague after his academic studies. Between 1905 and 1908 they worked together in Libotz (Liboc), a district of Prague. Thiemann and Klemm had a very similar style in this period, producing sheets that were influenced by Emil Orlik and the Viennese school of woodcut. In 1908 both men moved to Dachau, near Munich. From this point on, Thiemann’s woodcuts were almost exclusively landscapes. Following the style of the Dachau school of landscape painting, he treated the surface as a single ornament, reducing the landscape to just a few, stylised motifs: tree trunks, clouds and expanses of water.

 

 

 

 

Carl Theodor Thiemann

Birch Trees, 1907

Colour woodcut on Japanese paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Viktor Olgyai

Viktor Olgyai

The leading Hungarian exponent of printmaking during its turn-of-the-century revival was Viktor Olgyai. Having studied in Vienna and Paris, he produced etchings in the early 1890s, which brought him acclaim, and between 1898 and 1906 he lived and worked in Munich. During his time abroad, he discovered Japonisme and assembled his own collection of Japanese woodblock prints, which he displayed at the International Impressionist Exhibition held at the Budapest Artists’ House (Művészház) in 1910. In 1906, he moved home to Budapest to teach printmaking techniques at the Hungarian Royal School of Drawing, where, as a dedicated and excellent educator, he influenced many people. He taught relief printing not with the woodcut, but with the linocut; with linoleum, printing blocks were softer and easier to form than with wood. Although Olgyai himself produced only a few sheets using this technique, it was extremely popular among his pupils, many of whom are featured in this exhibition. His Small Village in the Snow is a fine example of Japanese-style printmaking. The most extraordinary aspect of this planar, contoured composition, constructed out of unified patches, is its golden underprinting.

 

Viktor Olgyai

Small Village in the Snow, 1907

Colour linocut on Chinese paper

Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

Carl Moll

Carl Moll

Carl Moll was a founding member of the Vienna Secession, established in 1897 with Gustav Klimt as its first president. Moll was also the regular editor of the periodical of the Secession, Ver Sacrum. The exhibitions held in the golden-domed Secession Building included a major show of Japanese art, a review of works by Edvard Munch and an exhibition on French postimpressionism, as well as works by members of the Secession. Their exhibition in spring 1902 centred around a full-length sculpted portrait of Beethoven made by Max Klinger, which paid homage to both the composer and the sculptor. For this occasion, a woodcut workshop was set up inside the Secession Building, where the members, including Emil Orlik, taught each other. The exhibition catalogue, featuring Japanese-style monogram-images created by the artists, was also a co-production by the members of the Secession. Carl Moll’s contribution to the exhibition was a set of Japanese-style woodcuts showing Viennese streets; in 1907, he used the same style to produce an eleven-sheet series of Beethoven’s houses. Moll also produced the box containing the prints, decorating it with the suminagashi (Japanese marbling) technique that was gaining popularity in the West at the time.

 

Carl Moll

Print from the portfolio Beethoven’s Houses, 1907

Colour woodcut on Japanese paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

 

Gyula Conrad

Gyula Conrad

Gyula Conrad was the first person in Hungary to produce Japanese-style woodcut art. Little is known about his studies, but between 1905 and 1907 he visited Munich on a number of occasions, funded by state grants, and it was probably there that he learnt the woodcut technique. Executed in delicate colours, his lyrical prints show urban details, winter landscapes, sailing scenes and horses being watered, all produced in the style typical of the Munich school of woodcut printing. Conrad did not have his own collection of Japanese woodblock prints, but he was influenced by Japonisme mostly through the works of printmakers in Munich, such as Carl Theodor Thiemann and Hans Neumann.

 

Gyula Conrad

On Quiet Waters, 1906

Colour woodcut on paper

Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

The Exoticness and Decorativeness of the Human Figure

The Exoticness and Decorativeness of the Human Figure

Western artists were inspired in two distinct ways by the human figures in Japanese woodblock prints. Firstly, they were interested in the images themselves showing how the inhabitants of the distant continent, with its exotic culture and lifestyle, went about their daily lives; and secondly they were intrigued by the radically different approach to the human form taken by artists in the island nation. Inspired by Japanese visual representations, European artists created countless orientalizing works showing the exoticness of the East, highlighting features that Western eyes were unaccustomed to, or else bringing the Eastern world to life in the form of objective, illustrated reports by Western travellers. The way in which Japanese woodblock printmakers approached the human form, however, was an even greater source of fascination to Western artists. For centuries, the convention had been to produce anatomically precise human figures with portrait-like features and nuanced emotions. Artists of the Secession and Art Nouveau now enthusiastically adopted the oriental tradition of presenting humans and their environment in a unified, stylised world, replacing unique characteristics with generalisations, types and common feelings. Rather than portraying individual physical traits, it was more important to express the beauty and grace – or conversely, the ugliness and combativeness – that can be found in every person. There was also no distinction drawn between the decorativeness of people and that of objects, for the beauty of objects also expresses the greatness of people. The living and the inanimate thus form a common ornament in the harmonic order of the world.

 

Emil Orlik

The Courtesan, Prints from the portfolio From Japan, 1904

Colour etching and lithograph on paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Max Kurzweil

Max Kurzweil

Max Kurzweil, who was born in Bohemia but studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and ultimately settled there, became a member of the Vienna Secession. During his years as a student, he spent a lot of time in Paris and at an art colony in Brittany, where he met his future wife – who is also shown on this sheet. Most summers he would regularly return with her to this part of France. In 1902, in the lead-up to the Beethoven Exhibition at the Secession Building, Kurzweil learnt how to make woodcuts from Emil Orlik. He began to produce his own prints, reaching his highest artistic achievement with the sheet entitled The Pillow, a masterful combination of the geometric forms of the Vienna Secession, French floral ornamentation, and the reduced spatiality of Japonisme. In this work, the motif resembling Japanese katagami (textile stencils) is not a decorative afterthought but the most important element of the depiction. His passionate interest in this motif is also evident in the typographical decorations he produced for the Secession’s periodical, Ver Sacrum.

 

Max Kurzweil

The Pillow, 1903

Colour woodcut on Japanese paper

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Gyula Tichy

Gyula Tichy

Gyula Tichy, an outstanding master of Hungarian printmaking who died tragically young, enrolled in Viktor Olgyai’s course at the Hungarian Royal School of Drawing in 1908. He worked in etching and linocut, and while his classmates created mostly landscapes, Tichy used the language of prints to address the modern ideas and issues of his times, in allegorical figural compositions. Tichy produced his linocuts between 1908 and 1913, from which he typically made monochrome prints, in intensive indigo, green or brown. He used spatial structures copied from Japanese woodblock prints, abandoned perspective, and filled the surface entirely, although he still followed the traditions of the Viennese Japanese-style woodcut. Nevertheless, Tichy’s works have their own, original style, identifiable from his unique compositional method, based on both positive and negative forms, and his use of decorative ornaments to avoid blank spaces.

 

Gyula Tichy

Diana and Actaeon, 1910–1912

Blue linocut on Japanese paper

Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest