The Greenwich Historical Society located on 39 Strickland Rd. in Cos Cob has organized a new exhibition called, An Eye to the East: The Inspiration of Japan that will be on view through February 26, 2016. Through paintings, prints, photographs, carvings, ceramics and textiles, An Eye to the East looks at the influence of Japanese art and culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with a special emphasis on the Cos Cob art colony. There will also be a special exhibition in a separate gallery of the work of Genjiro Yeto, who studied under John Henry Twachtman at the Art Students League in New York and spent part of each year from 1895 to 1901 at the Holley House. The work in this gallery features a recent donation of his work to the Greenwich Historical Society by his granddaughter.
During the early to mid 1800s Japan was a closed nation to the rest of the world and it wasn’t until 1854 when Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry established a treaty that opened trade between the United States and Japan that the west began to discover the culture of Japan. Perry could never have imagined the far-reaching effect that this trade document would have.
Within a year, French artist Félix Bracquemond “discovered” the woodblock prints of Hokusai and circulated them among his Paris art circle. Their influence was immediate, and visiting Cos Cob artists John Henry Twachtman, J. Alden Weir and Childe Hassam all took note. The introduction of Japanese art and culture made a splash at International Exhibitions in London (1862), Paris (1867) and Vienna (1873), and resulted in Europe’s captivation with all things Japanese.
The American Civil War delayed the introduction of Japanese art and culture in this country, but upon its introduction at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia and the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the “exotic” Japanese aesthetic was enthusiastically embraced. This exhibition traces the development and influence of Japanese art with a special look at the Cos Cob art colony.
A special tour, “the Curator’s Eye” is being offered with this exhibition and will take place on Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m. This will be a 20- to 30-minute docent-led gallery tour that will focus on exhibition highlights, themes and background stories that provide a framework for better understanding the art and objects on display. Docents will also answer questions and help you zero in on particular points of interest. These value-added tours are included in the price of admission.
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