Whistler and Japan: A Love Affair with Dr. Gavin Campbell - Context Travel

Whistler and Japan: A Love Affair with Dr. Gavin Campbell


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This seminar examines the American expatriate painter James McNeill Whistler's encounter with Japanese art. Through woodblock prints, painted scrolls and other objects of Japanese art he collected, Whistler found an aesthetic grammar that profoundly influenced some of his most iconic works, from the immortal portrait of his mother to the famous Peacock Room.

James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) came of artistic age at precisely the moment when Japanese art first became readily accessible in the West. Through shops in Paris and London selling all sorts of goods from East Asia, Whistler discovered an artistic culture whose values seemed to encourage him to push further against the constraints of "good" art. He was hardly alone. Some of the greatest names in European art–from Monet and Degas to Cassat and Van Gogh–turned to Japanese prints and scrolls to find an escape route from the conventions governing the art world.

Yet within that broader “Japan craze,” each artist found in Japanese visual culture a particular suggestion of how to pursue their art. This seminar focuses on how Whistler used Japanese art to articulate his unique artistic vision: “art for art’s sake.” We will explore some of his most famous works and also something of the background of the Japanese art world that proved so influential.

Led by an expert on Japanese Art History, Gavin Campbell, this interactive seminar will explore the life and work of James McNeill Whistler. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the influence of Japanese art on Whistler’s work.

Gavin received a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and came to Kyoto in 2001. He is a Ph.D. professor of history at Doshisha University. His teaching and research revolve around Japan's cultural encounters with the West, particularly during the Edo, Meiji, Taisho and early Showa periods (1600-1940), and he has published on the history of foreign tourism and of Protestant missionaries in Japan. To further explore Japan's global cultural encounters, he is currently writing a book on the history of Japanese menswear from the 1600s through the early 20th century. He is also an expert on Kyoto geisha culture and a frequent participant in geisha entertainment.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

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J
J.
A Piece of the Whistler Puzzle

I am always delighted to be able to take part in any of Dr. Campbell's talks. I have found that each one is a pearl and the more I take, a complete necklace begins to emerge. There is always new material combined with enough over-lapping topics that I gain a fuller sense of art, Japanese culture and aesthetics, and history. This was no exception. I was familiar with Whistler's figurative work, but not so much his "landscapes". I was fascinated to see how much Whistler pushed the boundaries of "Salon imposed" rules and look forward to studying more about the artist on my own. I am so looking forward to Gavin's multi-part course, "Japonisme–Art Between East and West".

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
100%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
J
J.
A Piece of the Whistler Puzzle

I am always delighted to be able to take part in any of Dr. Campbell's talks. I have found that each one is a pearl and the more I take, a complete necklace begins to emerge. There is always new material combined with enough over-lapping topics that I gain a fuller sense of art, Japanese culture and aesthetics, and history. This was no exception. I was familiar with Whistler's figurative work, but not so much his "landscapes". I was fascinated to see how much Whistler pushed the boundaries of "Salon imposed" rules and look forward to studying more about the artist on my own. I am so looking forward to Gavin's multi-part course, "Japonisme–Art Between East and West".