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Japanomania in the North

This evening Her Majesty The Queen officially opened the exhibition “Japanomania in the North 1875–1918”. This two-part exhibition shows the many ways in which Japanese art influenced Nordic art and design during that period.


One part of the exhibition is found at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design and the other is at the National Gallery. Altogether the exhibition displays nearly 400 objects inspired by Japanese design as well as nearly 200 paintings and woodcuts. Works by Nordic artists Gerhard Menthe, Helene Schjerfbeck, Oda Krohg and Nikolai Astrup are displayed alongside Japanese-inspired works by Monet, Gauguin and Van Gogh.

Japonism and modernism

When Japan opened its borders in 1854, it unleashed a wave of inspiration in the art world. This influence, called Japonism, reached the Nordic countries in the 1880s, and had a major impact on emerging Nordic modernism. Stylistic features such as asymmetry, simplification, stylisation and compositional freedom revolutionised both art and handicrafts.

In her remarks at the opening this evening, Queen Sonja said: “The exhibitions here at the National Gallery and at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design offer excellent insight into the important role that Japanese art has played in Nordic modernism.” The Queen continued by pointing out its influence on the Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup in particular:

“Coincidentally, we also have the chance to see the strong influence of Japonism on Nikolai Astrup in this summer’s exhibition of his work at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter. It stands out in his graphic prints, particularly his woodcuts, such as ‘Fugl på en sten’ (Bird on a stone). The Japanese influence is evident in the depiction of trees and branches in silhouette in that work.” 

On display until October

The exhibition will be opened to the public on 17 June and will be on display until 16 October.

The exhibition is a collaboration between Ateneum, the Finnish National Gallery, the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen, and the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Norway. The exhibition has been curated by Widar Halén and Vibeke Waallann Hansen.


Source: National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design



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