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Presentation Transcript + Notes

Arthur Wesley Dow

The Artwork I decided to choose is the Fig 1. “Bird on a persimmon Branch” (Graham, 2014, Page 121-122) designed and created by Arthur Wesley Dow an American painter and printmaker. His reasoning behind making this design was because he was “intrigued with the landscape prints of Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai while studying in Paris” (Graham, 2014, Page 121-122), therefore experimented with a variety of woodprint and stencils. The artwork was made for his personal projects.

The production of this design is unique due to the use of “woodblock printing”. He was the first American to perfect this technique. He created clear and simple pieces of work influenced by Japanese in his stencils where he created “asymmetrical compositions, with the close-up view of the natural world and the clear, flat, dark- light patterning of the form”.

Arthur Wesley Dow created styles of stencils using “clear flat patterns and compositions”. He “identified three characteristics of Japanese art that aspiring artist” should take in which were use of line, colour and tone. The use of limited colour palate of brown, white and black could be associated with the simple colours of nature and the environment around us. He incorporated both eastern and western aesthetics into his work.

In Fig 1 and Fig 2. the materials used were wood, ink and stencils. The stencils also called “Katagami” which is a Japanese stencil technique using fine detailed lines, were cut with “Mulberry bark paper”. (Graham, 2014, Page 121-122)

This tell us the aesthetics standards in eastern countries such as Japan focuses more on the subject matter rather than a realistic approach. Dow believed that Japanese art “captures the spirit of people and ideas” (Muscato 2018) as well as the environment. Whereas western aesthetics focused on the carving with details which equalled wealth at that time.

Arthur Wesley Dow was “fascinated for Japanese stencils to help improve the technique and composition of his own work” (Graham, 2014, Page 121-122)

He believed the art was important to the American artist as he quoted “Japanese art is the expression of a people’s devotion to the beautiful”. I believed he wanted to change the ideology of aesthetics in the western countries.

A period known as the “Meiji” was an era in Japan from 1868 – 1912 where the Japanese society moved from an isolated society to a much-westernised society.

Bibliography

Graham, P.J. (2014) Japanese Design Art, Aesthetics & Culture. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.

Harris, G. (2014) Arthur Wesley Dow. Available at: https://historicipswich.org/2014/06/25/arthur-wesley-dow/ (Accessed: 28th November 2018).

Muscato, C. (2018) Aesthetics Principles of Different Cultures. Available at: https://study.com/academy/lesson/aesthetic-principles-of-different-eras-cultures.html (Accessed: 1 December 2018).

Figure 1. Dow A, (1884) Bird on a Persimmon Branch 22.86 x 27.3cm Museum Purchase: Lucy Shaw Schultz Fund 2002.0003.

Woodblock prints cut on Mulberry Bark Paper

 

Figure 2. Fine design of banana leafs. 24.5 x 41.5 cm

Japanese Paper Stencil Katagami

 

Figure 3. Arthur Wesley Dow

 

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