Brittany – Japan 2012
At the end of the 19th century, Japan opened itself up to the rest of the world. In so doing, its culture and aesthetics attracted the interest of European artists, leading to a fascination with all things Japanese did not leave Brittany untouched! Brittany-Japan 2012 is a series of 12 exhibitions being held throughout the region, which aim to spotlight Japonism in Brittany: weapons, woodcut prints, photographs, porcelain, kimonos...more than 800 rare works will be exhibited.
- “Gyotaku, l’art de l’empreinte” (Gyotaku, the Art of Printing)
Musée de la Pêche (Fishing Museum) in Concarneau, until 30 September, 2012
Installed in summer 2011, this exhibition focuses on an art form little-known in France: Gyotaku or ‘fish printing’. This technique consists of coating a fish in ink and then pressing it onto paper to create a print.
- “Henri Rivière, les détours du chemin d’un japonisant en Côtes d’Armor” (Henri Rivière, the artist and Japonism in the Côtes d’Armor)
Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de la ville de Saint-Brieuc, from 9 February to 13 May, 2012
The engraver Henri Rivière (1864-1951) had two great loves in his life: Japanese woodcuts and Breton landscapes.He discovered the Japanese technique of woodcutting and rapidly made his name in this field, becoming one of the key figures in European Japonism.
- “L’arbre et la forêt, du Pays du Soleil Levant au Bois d’amour” (Trees and the Forest, from the Land of the Rising Sun to the Bois d’Amour)
Musée des Beaux-Arts in Quimper, from 2 March to 28 May, 2012
With trees and the forest being key themes in woodcuts, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Quimper has chosen to exhibit several works by Japanese masters and French painters on this theme. Several of these portray the Bois d’Amour in Pont-Aven.
- “L’art japonais dans les collections du musée de Brest” (Japanese Art in the Collections of the Musée de Brest)
Musée des Beaux Arts in Brest, from 10 March to 15 June, 2012
This first exhibition at the Brest Musée des Beaux Arts presents a selection of Japanese objects brought back to France by sailors and travellers from the 19th century onwards. Next to the Samurai armour stands an ivory statuette, surrounded by caskets, bowls, baskets, palanquins and laquerware, all bearing witness to the maritime history of both Brest and the world at large.
- “Empreintes d’un voyage au Japon” (Prints from a Japanese Voyage)
Musée Mathurin Méheut in Lamballe, from 1 April to 31 December, 2012
From the Porteur de palanches to La cérémonie du thé, the collection shows the influence Japan exerted on Méheut’s style, as well as revealing some of the objects, including books and ceramics, brought back by the artist from his travels.
- “Le voyage de Francis Hennequin au Japon, un photographe de Douarnenez au Pays du Soleil Levant”(Francis Hennequin’s Japanese Voyage, or a Photographer from Douarnenez in the Land of the Rising Sun)
Port-Musée in Douarnenez, from 9 May to 30 June, 2012
For Brittany-Japan 2012, the Port-Musée has decided to focus on Francis Hennequin, a photographer faithful to the town of Douarnenez, which has featured in so many of his photos. In 1912, he went on a world tour, during which he discovered Japan. Hennequin was fascinated by this country in the throes of great economic and cultural change.
- “Le Japon dans la correspondance de Mathurin Méheut” (Japan in the Correspondence of Mathurin Méheut)
Maison d’Artiste de la Grande Vigne in Dinan, from 15 May to 30 September, 2012
The artist Yvonne Jean-Haffen, who worked with the Henriot factory (faience makers in Quimper), was also a great friend of Mathurin Méheut. A correspondence began between the two of them, and Méheut, born in Lamballe, frequently illustrated his letters with sketches of things seen during his time in Japan: scenes of everyday life, Japanese temples, sacred deer, etc.
- “Nostalgie du Soleil levant, le goût pour l’art japonais” (Souvenirs of the Rising Sun, a Taste for Japanese Art)
Musée des Beaux Arts in Rennes, from 6 June to 26 August, 2012
Since 1967, Brittany’s capital city has been twinned with Sendaï, in Japan, and, in honour of this association, the Japanese town presented the Rennes Musée des Beaux Arts with 11 very special kimonos, made in the 1950s following patterns and styles from the 18th century. The Musée des Beaux Arts is also home to a collection of over 2000 Japanese prints.
- “Odyssée de l’Imari” (An Imari Odyssey)
Musée de la Compagnie des Indes (The India Company Museum) in Lorient, from 9 June to 2 September, 2012
Imari is a type of porcelain characterised by its floral motifs and the colours blue, red and gold. It stands as a unique symbol of the trade that developed between Europe and Asia in the early 17th century, as well as the monopoly established in Japan at the time by the Dutch East India Company.
- “La vague japonisante” (The Japonist Wave Unfurls)
Musée des Beaux Arts in Brest, from 25 June to 4 November, 2012
Following in the footsteps of Paul Gauguin, the painters of the Pont-Aven school and the Nabis were the next to be influenced by Japonism. Georges Lacombe, one of the group known as the Nabis, travelled to Brittany to paint the coastline of the Crozon peninsula. This collection brings together the very best works by artists of this period and reveals Brittany in the light of the Rising Sun.
- “Monet, Geoffroy, Rodin et le cercle des japonisants” (Monet, Geoffroy, Rodin and Japonism)
Musée de Morlaix, July to October, 2012
In 1886, art critic Gustave Geoffroy met Claude Monet in Belle-Île-en-Mer. Both fans of Japanese art, they decided to create a group with the aim of introducing Japonism to the French. In particular, Geoffroy published two articles on Japanese landscape painters in art journal Le Japon Artistique. For his part, Monet selected themes commonly used in Japanese woodcuts for the canvases he painted at Belle-Ile. The exhibition at the Musée de Morlaix will also touch on other artists from the group such as Auguste Rodin, who was a friend of Geoffroy.
- “La gravure sur bois en couleurs. Japon-Paris-Bretagne, 1880-1930” (Coloured Woodcuts. Japan-Paris-Brittany, 1880-1930)
Musée Départemental Breton in Quimper, from 30 November, 2012 to 3 March, 2013
At the end of the 19th century in France, French engravers like Henri Rivière adopted the Japanese techniques in their treatment of themes such as Breton ports and traditional regional costume. Assembling around a hundred works, this collection presents pieces by Japanese masters of woodcut printing as well as others by their Western admirers.
Throughout this year dedicated to Brittany-Japan, the whole of the Breton peninsula is turning Japanese! The Breton museums involved in the project have put together a rich programme of events including workshops, films, story-telling and puppet shows...Conferences and exhibitions will also be taking place at the Musée de Bretagne-Les Champs Libres and at Rennes2 University. A dozen or so libraries throughout the region are also taking part in the Brittany-Japan events programme.