Do you think that Japonisme is a form of “cultural appropriation?” Explain. Why might an artist wish to copy, or borrow elements of another culture’s art?

In recent years the term “cultural appropriation” has been used to describe the act of borrowing elements of another culture of which one is not a part (for example, when Katy Perry wore a kimono for her performance at the American Music Awards in 2013). This relates to “Japonisme,” the European fascination with Japanese art in the 1800s. One example of “Japonisme” is by Vincent van Gogh, who famously copied ukiyo-e prints by Japanese artist Ando Hiroshige (see example below).

Please respond to the following prompts (at least 200 words):

Do you think that Japonisme is a form of “cultural appropriation?” Explain.
Why might an artist wish to copy, or borrow elements of another culture’s art?
Make sure to respond to at least two classmates (at least 75 words each) to push the conversation forward in some way.

LEFT: Hiroshige woodblock print; RIGHT: Van Gogh painting

Karolina Skobel
discussion 4
I personally don’t believe that it is a form of cultural appropriation only if the person who is expressing this culture is not tarnishing the culture. If they are expressing it because they understand what it stands for or what is behind the meaning of this culture, then I do believe that they can express it even if they are not from that culture. The only time I think it is cultural appropriation is if you are disrespecting it. For example, if they put on a Japonisme and walk around being disrespectful about it then yeah it is cultural appropriation at that point. I believe that artists want to borrow elements from another culture’s art because they might either get tired of their own materials or elements that they are using and want to try something different. Also, they want to branch out and try new things. It also teaches them about this specific element that they are using, and it is another way of learning new things especially when it comes to art. I don’t think that there is any right or wrong to practice another culture. As long as you’re treating it with respect it should be okay to represent it.
Alexis Gonzalez
discussion 4
I would agree one hundred percent that Japonisme is a form of cultural appropriation because western european artists started having an obsession with everything that the Japanese made for their culture. In 1854, the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan opened the islands to outsiders. So all of Japan’s products traveled to Europe. That is why the cultural obssesions started because people would want to replicate Japanese art. Cultural appropriation is the use of objects or elements of a non-dominant culture in a way that does’t respect their original meaning, give credit to their source, or reinforces stereotypes or contributes to oppression.

An artists reason to copy, or borrow elements of another culture’s art is probably to show the audience that there’s another way to paint a drawing or a scultpure. That there are many ways to show a piece of art. There are some artist who copy the exact painting but they just use brighter and darker colors like the artist Van Gogh. With the painting “woodblock print” by Ando Hiroshige. He did not give any credit to Van Gogh. I would consider that to be plagiarized because it is exactly the same painting but different colors. I don’t like the idea of taking an artist’s hardwork and dedication and trying to make it thecixir own and not giving any credit.

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