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Van GOGH and UKİYO-e

The Fusion of Two Artistic Styles

By ismail kantoPublished about a year ago 4 min read
Van Gogh - la courtisane


Ukiyo-e is a Japanese printmaking art that gained popularity in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). This art form consists of many genres that depict "ukiyo," or worldly pleasures. The works include scenes of daily life, portraits of famous actors, landscapes, and other subjects.

Van Gogh's interest in Ukiyo-e works began in 1886. At that time, Japanese art was under the influence of Japonism, a groundbreaking art movement in France. Van Gogh saw many works of Japanese art in Paris and bought some from his collections.

He expressed his admiration for Ukiyo-e paintings in many of his letters. In "The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh" in 1888, he wrote: "The Japanese are real artists. I already dream of being like Van Gogh, but I dream even more of observing like a Japanese." The vivid colors, sharp contours, and simple lines of Ukiyo-e art influenced Van Gogh's own art style.

By learning the line work in Ukiyo-e works, he sought a different style in his own paintings. Van Gogh, who was influenced by some Ukiyo-e works, especially depicted Japanese landscapes in his inner surreal works.

The influence of Ukiyo-e paintings on Van Gogh's art is only a part of the Japanese influence in his art. However, the vivacity, sharp lines, and simple forms of Ukiyo-e deeply influenced Van Gogh's color palette and brushstrokes.

Van Gogh combined the use of color and light in French Impressionism with the influence of Ukiyo-e art to create his own original style. Today, Van Gogh's Ukiyo-e collection is exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The collection clearly demonstrates the impact of Japanese art on Western art history.

Van Gogh and Ukiyo-e: The Fusion of Two Artistic Styles

Vincent van Gogh and Ukiyo-e are two very different art forms representing two distinct cultural and artistic traditions. Van Gogh's paintings are known for their thick brushstrokes, vibrant colors, and emotional intensity, while Ukiyo-e is characterized by delicate lines, flat colors, and depictions of everyday life scenes in Japan. Despite these differences, the two styles merged in the hands of Van Gogh, creating a unique artistic fusion that filled the gap between East and West.

During his time in Paris, Van Gogh drew inspiration from Japanese Ukiyo-e prints. He was particularly interested in the way Ukiyo-e artists depicted nature and everyday life, and incorporated these elements into his own works. He also admired the way Ukiyo-e artists used asymmetry and placement of objects to create a sense of balance and harmony in their works. Vincent Van Gogh is still considered a great painter in his own time and continues to have a significant impact on the art world. His self-taught and emotionally intense art style is considered one of the pioneers of modernism.

Van Gogh's interest in Japanese art began when he moved to Paris in 1886. This introduced a new dimension to his works and after discovering Ukiyo art, he created a new perspective in his paintings. Van Gogh was deeply influenced by the characteristics of Ukiyo art. Ukiyo means "pictures of the floating world" and is known as a style that reflects snapshots of everyday life in Japanese art. Van Gogh started incorporating some Ukiyo-style elements into his paintings that he drew inspiration from. For example, Flemish designs commonly used in Japanese drawings were also present in Van Gogh's works. As a result, Van Gogh's Ukiyo collection is an important milestone in art history, as it shows the Japanese influence on his paintings and serves as an important milestone in how Ukiyo style was used in Western art.

Van Gogh's interest in Ukiyo-e can be seen in his paintings such as "The Courtesan" and "The Bridge in the Rain," where he used strong outlines and bright colors to depict the subject matter. In "The Courtesan," he used a combination of bright red, green, and yellow colors to create a bold and striking image, while in "The Bridge in the Rain," he used a mixture of blues and greens to convey the feeling of a rainy day.

The influence of Ukiyo-e on Van Gogh's works is also evident in his use of asymmetry and placement of objects. In "The Courtesan," he placed the female figure slightly off-center, creating a sense of movement and visual interest. In "The Bridge in the Rain," he used the placement of the bridge and the figures walking on it to create a sense of balance and harmony.

The fusion of Van Gogh's style with Ukiyo-e continued into modern times, with contemporary artists creating works that combine elements of both styles. These works often feature bright colors, bold outlines, and a strong sense of movement and asymmetry. The result of Van Gogh's emotional intensity combined with the delicate lines and flat colors of Ukiyo-e was a unique blending of two distinct artistic styles.

Van Gogh witnessed the spread of Japanese art to Europe during the Imperial Era, and repeatedly expressed how Ukiyo-e inspired him. This source of inspiration led to his admiration for Japanese aesthetics, ultimately paving the way for incorporating Ukiyo-style elements into his own paintings. He also acquired a collection of rare Ukiyo-e works by purchasing them during a specific period, including works by well-known artists such as Hiroshige and Hokusai.

Van Gogh's Ukiyo-e collection, particularly his landscape paintings, stands out from his earlier works and clearly indicates a revolutionary change in his art. After his death, his collection was exhibited in museums worldwide, contributing to the growing interest in Van Gogh's art in distant Asia. Today, many art enthusiasts follow his unique collection that combines the Ukiyo-e style with Van Gogh's own artistic vision.

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