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Theme and Variation: Japanese Design Motifs

September 15, 1989–July 15, 1990

Japanese art is distinguished by the inventiveness and style of its traditional design motifs. Many of these elements were adapted from Chinese models and soon transformed into an unmistakably Japanese style which is characterized by a love of asymmetry, empty space, and irregular pattern. Often designs are inspired by nature: gourds, chrysanthemums, birds, and deer in myriad manifestations on ceramics, in paintings, lacquers, and even sword fittings. Family crests, such as the Tokugawa family hollyhock (aoi) trefoil, are also frequently used to decorate furniture and textiles. Geometric motifs of stripes, dots, or the triangular fish-scale (uroko) pattern form another element of traditional design. This installation features art in all media from all periods to provide a sampling of the Japanese genius for decorative style.

Main Building


Felice Fischer

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