To the other end of the world

Japan and the European masters of modernism
3 February – 18 June 2017

Hardly any fashion had a more lasting influence on the artists of the late 19th century than their enthusiasm for Japan: in the foreign visual world of Edo (today's Tokyo), they encountered the colorful world of theater, entertainment districts and fashion. Especially in the medium of color woodblock prints, these "images of the fluid world" (ukiyo-e) reached Europe, where they inspired artists and collectors alike: Pierre Bonnard, for example, papered his walls with the colorful prints and was called "le Nabi japonard" by his friends in the Nabis group. Private collectors such as Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser-Bühler acquired Japanese woodblock prints; so did public collections - including the Staatsgalerie.

In the graphic arts cabinet of the Staatsgalerie, at the same time as the exhibition "Aufbruch Flora. Masterpieces from the Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser-Bühler Collection," a presentation of Japanese woodblock prints from the gallery's own collection took place.

The juxtaposition with works by European artists such as Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Paul Gauguin - the very artists whose works are represented in the Hahnloser Collection - made it clear how they drew inspiration in their search for new forms of expression: In the colorful Japanese prints they found beauty and expressiveness of the curved line, simultaneous perspectives and exuberant ornamentation. Above all, the longing of the Nabis artists for a new unity of art and life and the accompanying revaluation of handicrafts and commercial art received important impulses from the products of Japanese art.

Around 100 Japanese prints and 30 European prints from the museum's own collection were presented to the public for the first time in two successive hangings.