Johannes Larsen (1867-1961) never visited Japan but he journeyed there in his work and found inspiration in Japanese art and culture. This exhibition presents two unique collections of privately-owned Japanese woodcut books and woodcuts, together with the Japanese-inspired works of Johannes Larsen. Both private collections are the result of two individuals’ fascination with Japan and from a wider perspective the exhibition celebrates the inauguration of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Japan, as 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The Museum marks the anniversary by showing these two collections and poses a question about the extent of Japanese art’s influence on Johannes Larsen who was born in 1867, the year in which diplomatic relations were initiated. As well as offering an insight into the specific milieu of Japanese woodcuts, the exhibition shows Johannes Larsen’s work and discusses some of the paradoxes which are present in the Funen version of all things Japanese.
In Denmark there was significant interest in Japan at the close of the 19th century. Many people bought Japanese craft works and woodcuts and European artists and craftspeople drew inspiration from Japanese art breaking away from their own traditions. This also applied to Johannes Larsen who is one of the major artists in Faaborg Museum’s collection.
Comparing the art of Japanese woodcuts with Johannes Larsen’s work, which is produced in a similar way to a woodcut, the exhibition considers how the esoteric and the unfamiliar were used in a rediscovery of the Danish landscape, its flora and fauna. Johannes V. Jensen wrote that the Funen Painters interpreted impressionism with a ‘Funen accent’. Similarly Johannes Larsen interpreted Japanese woodcuts by utilising Japanese idiom for Funen subjects.
This exhibition has its basis in the acclaimed exhibition of woodcuts and woodcut books which was shown at Vejen Art Museum during the summer of 2016. It was the first dedicated show of these richly illustrated art books in Denmark.
150 Years of Cultural Co-operation between Denmark and Japan 2017
Faaborg Museum’s exhibition ‘Johannes Larsen and Japanese Woodcuts’ is part of the 2017 programme to mark 150 years of cultural co-operation between Denmark and Japan. Cultural exchange between Denmark and Japan is being strengthened throughout 2017 with a special cultural co-operation initiative which involves a number of leading cultural agencies in both countries.
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