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Phylis Floyd

French term used to describe a range of European borrowings from Japanese art. It was coined in 1872 by the French critic, collector and printmaker Philippe Burty ‘to designate a new field of study—artistic, historic and ethnographic’, encompassing decorative objects with Japanese designs (similar to 18th-century Chinoiserie), paintings of scenes set in Japan, and Western paintings, prints and decorative arts influenced by Japanese aesthetics. Scholars in the 20th century have distinguished japonaiserie, the depiction of Japanese subjects or objects in a Western style, from Japonisme, the more profound influence of Japanese aesthetics on Western art.

There has been wide debate over who was the first artist in the West to discover Japanese art and over the date of this discovery. According to Bénédite, Félix Bracquemond first came under the influence of Japanese art after seeing the first volume of Katsushika Hokusai’s Hokusai manga (‘Hokusai’s ten thousand sketches’, 1814) at the printshop of ...



Japanese, 17th – 18th century, male.

Born 1663, in Kyoto Prefecture; died 1743.

Potter, painter.

Kenzan was the brother of Korin Ogata, the great Edo painter (1658-1716), and became known first as a ceramicist. He and Ninsei Nonomura introduced a new form of richly decorated ceramic art, which was very successful in the Genroku period (...


Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 1883, in Kyoto; died 1959.

Painter, calligrapher, potter.

Rosanjin grew up in an adoptive family after being abandoned by his mother. When he was only ten, he discovered the art of calligraphy and was deeply impressed. On being turned down by the Kyoto Municipal Art School he taught himself virtually on his own, mastering the arts of calligraphy and engraving by the age of 20. In 1915, after completing various calligraphic works in Tokyo, he travelled abroad, going to China and Korea. He returned to Kanazawa to study ceramics under Suda Seika for two years. In 1917 he settled in Kita-Kamakura as a ceramic artist. He only travelled to the West once, in 1954, for the exhibition of his work in Europe and the USA. For eleven years, Rosanjin worked in close collaboration with the owners of Tokyo’s most renowned restaurant, making all the ceramic wares used in the establishment. His work defies categorisation; he touched on many disciplines in many styles....



Japanese, 16th – 17th century, male.

Active in Kyoto.

Born 1558; died 1637.

Painter, potter, draughtsman, calligrapher, decorative artist. Portraits, flowers.

Koetsu, a great calligrapher, painter, potter, decorator and patron of the arts, played a major role in the cultured world of Kyoto in the early 17th century. At this period, the city’s great merchants, grown wealthy from trade with China, were active in the cultural life of the city, giving themselves over to the tea ceremony, flower arranging, poetry and calligraphy. Koetsu was born into this potent environment to a celebrated family of sword polishers and appraisers who enjoyed the trust of the Ashikaga governors. He received a scrupulous education and followed in his father’s footsteps, while cultivating the art of calligraphy. With Konoe Nobutada and Shokado Shojo, he is reckoned as one of the Three Brushes of the early century. His art signals a return to the elegant calligraphy of the Heian period (794-...



Japanese, 17th century, male.

Active in Kyoto.

Born 1601; died 1682.


Kuchu was the disciple and grandson of Koetsu (1558-1637) and the son of Kosa. Like his grandfather, he was skilled in the art of the tea ceremony and ceramics. He produced a book on Koetsu entitled ...


Japanese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in France.

Born 4 February 1949, in Hiroshima.

Painter, draughtsman, ceramicist.

After graduating from art school in Kyoto, Mikizawa continued her training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In Japan, she worked in the studio of the Japanese master Tahara and also studied the techniques of the master Kusube Yaichi. She lives in Paris and in Ramatuelle. Without detaching herself from her roots, she is very much influenced by the light in Provence. Her painting is impressionistic, while her ceramics are firmly within the classical Japanese tradition. She won first prize at the All-Japan Art Competition and several other prizes at other Osaka exhibitions....



Japanese, 18th – 19th century, male.

Born 1767, in Kyoto; died 1833, in Kyoto.

Painter, potter.

Mokubei was a potter as well as a painter and a lover of illuminated art. An aesthetic intellectual evolving within an intellectual elite steeped in Chinese culture, he was the elder son of a patron of a restaurant or brothel in Kyoto. He was attracted to the arts at a very young age and left his father’s household aged 15....


Kōzō Sasaki and Hiroko Nishida

[Hyakurokusanjin; Kokukan; Kukurin; Rōbei; Ryūbei; Sahei; Seirai; Teiunrō; Yasohachi]

(b Kyoto, 1767; d Kyoto, 1833).

Japanese potter, painter and scholar. He was born into the Kiya family of restaurateurs and adopted the surname Aoki only after becoming a painter. Mokubei, one of his many artist’s names, was created by combining the Chinese characters for ‘tree’ and ‘rice’ (a character anagram of his given name Yasohachi). His most familiar studio name (), Rōbei (‘deaf [Moku]bei’), dates from the time when he had become deaf from the clangour of his ceramic kilns. Despite his plebeian origins, he gravitated at a young age towards the arts and Chinese philosophy and poetry. At 18 he became a pupil of Kō Fuyō, from whom he learnt seal-carving, epigraphy, literati painting (Nanga or Bunjinga; see Japan, §VI, 4, (vi), (d)), Confucianism and the arts and crafts of China. His first acquaintance with pottery also came through Fuyō, who owned a large collection of Chinese ceramics. After studying with Fuyō, he is said to have gone to Ise (now Mie Prefect.) to take up metalwork, and he later tried his hand at sculpture, but he was successful at neither. In ...


Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 5 September 1903, in Aomori (Aomori Prefecture); died 1975, in Tokyo.

Engraver, painter, illustrator, ceramicist, calligrapher, watercolourist.

Sosaku Hanga.

First Thursday Society.

Shiko Munakata assisted his father at the family forge as a child, then became a clerk and began to paint in his free time. Together with friends, he founded an artistic society to exhibit their paintings. In 1924 he left for Tokyo to study oil painting but did not find the method congenial. Attracted by the engravings of Kawakami, he then turned towards wood engraving, but concentrated mainly on Buddhist themes. From 1928, he worked under the guidance of Unichi Hiratsuka. He set up the Japanese academy of engraving ( ...



Japanese, 17th century, male.


Born in Nonomura (Kyoto Prefecture).

Painter, potter.

Ninsei is considered the first maker of kyoyaki, a type of Kyoto pottery that was extremely successful in the 18th and 19th centuries, and is also said to have been a painter in his day. The pictorial decorations of his ceramics bear witness to his artistic abilities and are sometimes of Kano style inspiration and sometimes of Tosa style inspiration....


Shin’ichiro Osaki

(b Tokyo, Feb 26, 1911; d Tokyo, January 7, 1996).

Japanese painter and ceramicist. His father, Ippei Okamoto (1886–1948), was a cartoonist, and his mother, Kanoko Okamoto, was a poet and novelist. In 1929 he entered the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, but six months later he left and accompanied his parents to Paris. From the following year Okamoto studied philosophy at the Université de Paris. At the same time the paintings of Picasso had a tremendous impact on him and he decided to become a painter. In 1932 he exhibited work at the Salon des Indépendants and the following year became a member of the Abstraction–Création group. Gradually he learnt the limits of pure abstraction, and in an exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants he showed the painting the Sad Arm (1936; priv. col.) depicting an arm with a clenched fist, which he was invited to include in the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1938. Consequently his friendship with such Surrealists as André Breton, Louis Aragon and Max Ernst deepened. He participated in the Collège de Sociologie set up by George Bataille and others, and associated with many leading intellectuals. At this time he produced relatively uniform examples of Concrete art, although often using symbolic materials such as cloth or ribbon in his works. In ...


Karen M. Gerhart

[Ōtagaki Nobu]

(b Kyoto, 1791; d Kyoto, 1875).

Japanese poet, calligrapher, potter and painter. Shortly after her birth, she was adopted by Ōtagaki Mitsuhisa who worked at Chion’in, an important Jōdo (Pure Land) sect temple in Kyoto. In 1798 she was sent to serve at Kameoka Castle in Tanba, where she studied poetry, calligraphy and martial arts. She returned to Kyoto in 1807 and was married to a young samurai named Mochihisa. They had three children, all of whom died shortly after birth; in 1815 Mochihisa also died. In 1819 Nobu remarried, but her second husband died in 1823. After enduring the tragic loss of two husbands and all her children, Nobu, only 33 years old, cut her hair off and became a nun, at which time she adopted the name Rengetsu (‘lotus moon’). She lived with her stepfather, who had also taken vows, near Chion’in. After his death in 1832 Rengetsu began to make pottery, which she then inscribed with her own ...


Japanese, 20th century, male.

Active in France from 1951.

Born 1921, in Kita Kyushu (Fukuoka).

Painter, watercolourist, lithographer, ceramicist.

Tabuchi Yasukazu was active in the air force and navy during the last years of World War II. He studied history of art at the University of Tokyo ...


Michelle Yun

(b Portland, OR, July 11, 1946; d San Francisco, CA, Aug 12, 1999).

Chinese–American painter and ceramicist. Wong was raised in San Francisco’s Chinatown and received a BA in Ceramics from Humboldt State University in 1968. After graduation, Wong became involved in San Francisco’s performance art scene and worked as a set painter for the Angels of Light Performance Troupe throughout the 1970s. At the age of 30, he decided to become a painter and moved to New York in 1978.

A self-taught painter, Wong’s early realist works often incorporated text and sign language, as in Psychiatrists Testify: Demon Dogs Drive Man to Murder (1980). In 1981 the artist moved to the Lower East Side, a predominantly black and Latino community that would serve as inspiration for the next decade. Wong was a key member of the East Village art scene in the 1980s. His gritty, heavily painted canvases depict the harsh realities of urban life through barren cityscapes of concrete, brick and steel (...


Chinese, 20th century, male.

Born 1942, in Taiwan.

Painter, sculptor, ceramicist. Figures, portraits.

A-Sun Wu trained at the National Taiwan Normal University and completed his studies at the Real Academia in Madrid. He has lived in Spain, the USA, various African countries, the Amazon valley in Brazil and the South Pacific. Wu succeeded in stepping outside the conventional (and in his view over-restrictive) rules of Taiwanese artistic tradition and its confrontation with the West. His work, executed rapidly, used to feature figures touched by Expressionism, deformation and primitivist schematisation, but starting in the 1980s he undertook a series of paintings and sculptures that took his art further. Under the influence of the tribal culture of the Pacific islands, he painted figures or heads, but his palette became somewhat simpler, now consisting of white, black and red. His work, which tends towards the decorative, became increasingly imbued with a symbolic approach to the world. He took part in the 10th, 11th and 12th São Paulo Biennales (...


Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 1918; died 1979, in Kyoto.

Sculptor, ceramicist.

Yagi Katsuo took up sculpture and subsequently studied at the school of applied arts in Kyoto. He began his career as a professional draughtsman, but in 1952 he gave up his professional career and devoted himself to pottery, founding the Association of Contemporary Art. He took part in group exhi­bitions, with this group in particular, introducing pottery into the arena of mainstream art forms. In ...


Chinese, 8th century, male.

Active in Chang’an during the Tang dynasty in the first half of the 8th century.

Painter, sculptor. Murals.

Yang Huizhi sculpted clay landscapes and Buddhist figures, and painted frescoes.