Japanese Deco: East Meets West in New York

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Here is a surprisingly eye-opening exhibit that you should not miss. Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945 is the first exhibition in the United States to focus on Japan and Art Deco style. It elegantly explores a little-known brand of pre-WWII modernism that embodies the cultural marriage of East and West. Curated by Dr. Kendall Brown, the exhibit conveys the complex social and cultural tensions in Japan during the Taisho and early Showa periods through dramatically designed examples of metalwork, ceramics, lacquer, glass, furniture, jewelry, sculpture and graphic design such as sheet music, posters, postcards, prints and photography. The vitality of the era is further expressed through the theme of the moga (“modern girl”), a symbol of contemporary urban chic that flowered briefly, along with the Art Deco style, in the 1920s and ’30s.

The Japan Society is located on 47th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues in New York. The exhibit, which began on March 16 runs until June 10. Well worth the visit. Gallery Hours are Tues.-Thurs. 11 AM-6 PM; Fri. 11 AM-9 PM; Sat. & Sun. 11 AM-5 PM; closed Mon. & major holidays. Docent-led walk-in tours are conducted Tues.-Sun. at 12:30 PM. Japanese Language tours are conducted Friday nights at 6 PM and at other times by appointment. Tours are free with admission of $12 and are approximately one hour in duration. To arrange group tours, call (212) 715-1224. Admission is free on Friday nights, 6-9 PM.

A symposium on Japanese design before World War II is planned for Saturday, March 24, 1 PM — 4:30 PM See more images here. My own (out of print) book Japanese Modern: Graphic Design Between the Wars (Chronicle Books) co-authored with James Fraser and Seymour Chwast is available through booksellers found here. And a Japan Society catalog is available.

The exhibition was organized by Art Services International, which is making it available to additional venues for the next two-plus years.

More Design Resources:

  1. Available now: Print Magazine’s Guest Art Director Digital Collection

  2. Enter your work in the Regional Design Annual

  3. Damn Good Advice (for people with talent!) with George Lois

  4. Get an inside look at logo design from Chermayeff & Geismar