Arts / Visual Art
Exuberant Japanese Deco Made 70 Years Ago Finally Pays a Visit to Japan's Former Enemy—Us
by Jen Graves
on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 11:47 AM
Courtesy of the Levenson Collection
AND THERE'S PLENTY MORE WHERE THIS CAME FROM At Seattle Asian Art Museum.
I am passionate on a cellular level for the Chrysler Building in New York; I love you, I cannot resist you. Art deco is as alluring as a dapper villain. Deco has no enemies, no politics, no ethics, no manifestos, not even a united school of makers, all of which is why art history has never taken it seriously, and all of which makes it fascinating. Its streamlined, diamantine appearance is adaptable by all comers: rapacious capitalists, jazz players, proto-feminists. It gleams, glows, and glimmers. And now that examples of that naked, forceful exuberance created in Japan in the years leading up to war are paying their first visit to the victorious enemy country 70 years later, it's a major, marvelous, vaguely uneasy event. You will love it; you will not be able to resist it.
NON-NUDE DESCENDING A STAIRCASE This painting from Japan was made in full knowledge of the Nude Descending a Staircase by Duchamp that scandalized the art world. In this work, the woman wears a kimono, but also a Western stole.