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What Is Euro-Asian Art and Design?

Updated on January 24, 2017
Raine Law Yuen profile image

Raine has interest in exploring the intersections between East and West, A South African Born Chinese with two children of mixed ancestry.

 Abstract Expressionism linked Eastern and Western aesthetic concepts. Where essence meets form. Arshile Gorkey was  influential in this 20th century movement.
Abstract Expressionism linked Eastern and Western aesthetic concepts. Where essence meets form. Arshile Gorkey was influential in this 20th century movement. | Source

The Transforming Power of Art.

Art and design provide a lens through which society expresses itself, it's values and ideals. It can also helps us to define who we are in space and time on a collective and individual basis..

Eastern and Western cultural values are reflected in art that appeal to our senses in very different ways. Traditional Western art focuses on the external to the internal - drawing our physical senses to our internal sense of aesthetics whilst Eastern art is focussed on seeing with our inner eye to determine the essence of a subject matter.

Over time artist explored the harmonious blending between East and West.

In this post I explore the elements of Eastern and Western art and design and how artistic expression transformed our physical reality into today's modern society..




The House on the Bridge, by Diego Rivera. straight lines, geometry,optics, light source illuminates picture and close up focus on a subject matter excludes context reinforce western values of linear, rational thinking and individuality
The House on the Bridge, by Diego Rivera. straight lines, geometry,optics, light source illuminates picture and close up focus on a subject matter excludes context reinforce western values of linear, rational thinking and individuality
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Baroque art was characterised by strongly religious and political themes; common characteristics included rich colours with a strong light and dark contrast. Paintings were elaborate, emotional and dramatic in nature.Rococo art was characterised by lighter, often jocular themes; common characteristics included pale, creamy colours, florid decorations and a penchant for bucolic landscapes. Paintings were more ornate than their Baroque counterpart, and usually grac
Baroque art was characterised by strongly religious and political themes; common characteristics included rich colours with a strong light and dark contrast. Paintings were elaborate, emotional and dramatic in nature.
Baroque art was characterised by strongly religious and political themes; common characteristics included rich colours with a strong light and dark contrast. Paintings were elaborate, emotional and dramatic in nature. | Source
Rococo art was characterised by lighter, often jocular themes; common characteristics included pale, creamy colours, florid decorations and a penchant for bucolic landscapes. Paintings were more ornate than their Baroque counterpart, and usually grac
Rococo art was characterised by lighter, often jocular themes; common characteristics included pale, creamy colours, florid decorations and a penchant for bucolic landscapes. Paintings were more ornate than their Baroque counterpart, and usually grac | Source

Traditional European Perspective on Visual Art.

European art is characterized by a number of different periods which reflect the sensibilities and values of the time.

European art is arranged into a number of stylistic periods, which, historically, overlap each other as different styles. According to Wiklopedia the periods are: Classical, Byzantine, Medieval, Gothic Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, Modern and Postmodern.[3]'

As founding fathers of Western culture, the ancient Greeks under the influence of philosophers Plato, Socrates and Aristotle associated aesthetics with values of symmetry, harmony and balance.

European values are reflected in art through the use of linear lines, geometry, optical reflection and detail of subject matter.

A subject is viewed from the perspective of the artist reinforcing the value that man is the centre of his universe. The artist aims to produce work which has symmetry and balance in order to engage the viewers visual aesthetic sensibilities by seeing with the eye.

Studies verify that Europeans consider symmetry as being associated with beauty and valuing a subject as aesthetically pleasing.

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Hiroshige, The moon over a waterfall. Blending lines, space produce a flat effect -reinforces values of holism and context - drawing the viewer  to see through the eyes not with the eye. Inner reflection and soul engagement are valued.
Hiroshige, The moon over a waterfall. Blending lines, space produce a flat effect -reinforces values of holism and context - drawing the viewer to see through the eyes not with the eye. Inner reflection and soul engagement are valued. | Source

Eastern Perceptions of Aesthetics.

Eastern aesthetics reflect the values of holism and contextual perception. The artist attempts to capture the spirit of a subject through tone and atmosphere. Looking through the eyes of nature provides a spiritual engagement with the subject matter.

The East placed its values on spiritual and aesthetic sensibilities at the time when the West advanced itself through science and technology.

The viewer attempts to understand the soul of the artist within the context of his circumstances. Space is not necessarily a reflection of emptiness but its energetic connection to its elements.

Flatness of an object in context to its surroundings reflect the principle of oneness – A blending with the environment. Harmony is defined as not sticking out from context. In the same way a persons role is valued over individuality.

An experiment conducted to determine how Easterners view objects found that they tend to take longer shots that include the contextual circumstances of the subjects.

The principles of Eastern aesthetics are alsll expressed in Japanese aesthetics of Wabi Sabi. .which views life as transient, imperfect and incomplete and. expresses these values in their paintings which aims to reflect feelings of sincerity, mystery, profundity, pathos, sublime beauty, emotional beauty, melancholy and loneliness.


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Following Queen Victoria era, (1837-1901) A movement developed to modernize and update European society.A picture of Leadenhall Street, London, c. 1837. Reflects Western art - oUse of straight lines, geometry,focus on subject,, perspective of the viewer.Slums in England reflect the social decay taking root in the Victorian Era.Working class life in Victorian Wetherby, West Yorkshire
Following Queen Victoria era, (1837-1901) A movement developed to modernize and update European society.
Following Queen Victoria era, (1837-1901) A movement developed to modernize and update European society. | Source
A picture of Leadenhall Street, London, c. 1837. Reflects Western art - oUse of straight lines, geometry,focus on subject,, perspective of the viewer.
A picture of Leadenhall Street, London, c. 1837. Reflects Western art - oUse of straight lines, geometry,focus on subject,, perspective of the viewer.
Slums in England reflect the social decay taking root in the Victorian Era.
Slums in England reflect the social decay taking root in the Victorian Era.
Working class life in Victorian Wetherby, West Yorkshire
Working class life in Victorian Wetherby, West Yorkshire

The Roots of Western Modernization.

Following the Victoria era, a movement developed to modernize European society in the mid nineteenth century . Rapid changes bought about by the Industrial revolution created a school of thought that challenged traditional European mindsets which at the time was preoccupied with superficiality, comfort and a resistance to change resulting in a society that became complacent, corrupt and lethargic.

During this time - around 1859, Japan also embarked on a modernization drive and opened its doors to the West, engaging in vigorous trade and cultural interchanges.

Early Western pioneers seeking change to European society, Eastern values, and world views represented a fresh perspective and as a consequence deeply influenced their mindsets and were credited with modernizing and changing Western perspectives in all areas from social, cultural to political views.

This significant contribution however was never acknowledged until the last fifty years when a number of scholarly work emerged that provide evidence indicating early pioneers of modernism derived much of their inspiration and ideas from the Far East at the time when Japan opened its doors to the West to engage in trade relationships.










Hendri Matisse. Le Bonheur de vivre. 1905-6
Hendri Matisse. Le Bonheur de vivre. 1905-6 | Source
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Vincent van Gogh, The Blooming Plum Tree (after Hiroshige), 1887.Butterflies, around 1910 (Museum of Modern Art) Odilon RedonUtamaro was an extremely famous and prolific woodblock print artist known especially for representations of elegant feminine beauties. A common aesthetic in Utamaro's prints is a partially veiled figure, done here with the comb over her face. It's ki
Vincent van Gogh, The Blooming Plum Tree (after Hiroshige), 1887.
Vincent van Gogh, The Blooming Plum Tree (after Hiroshige), 1887. | Source
Butterflies, around 1910 (Museum of Modern Art) Odilon Redon
Butterflies, around 1910 (Museum of Modern Art) Odilon Redon | Source
Utamaro was an extremely famous and prolific woodblock print artist known especially for representations of elegant feminine beauties. A common aesthetic in Utamaro's prints is a partially veiled figure, done here with the comb over her face. It's ki
Utamaro was an extremely famous and prolific woodblock print artist known especially for representations of elegant feminine beauties. A common aesthetic in Utamaro's prints is a partially veiled figure, done here with the comb over her face. It's ki | Source
Japanese Bloc print inspired the impressionist art movement of the mid 19th century upon which the modernisation of the West was  founded.
Japanese Bloc print inspired the impressionist art movement of the mid 19th century upon which the modernisation of the West was founded. | Source
Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers.
Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers. | Source

How is Euro- Asian Art Defined?

The opening of the silk road trade between the East and West in the mid 19th century created a vigorous exchange of goods and cultural ideas that co-incided with a movement in the West to modernize Western aesthetic sensibilities from the traditional and dated Victorian sense of aesthetics.

In the 1850s, several modern-minded artists in France discovered the Japanese woodblock print. The woodblock prints illustrated "snapshots" from daily life in pre-modern Japan that came to be known as "Japonism."

According to Wikipedia '

Japonism (from the French Japonisme, first used in 1872[1]) is the influence of Japanese art, fashion and aesthetics on Western culture.[2][3] The term is used particularly to refer to Japanese influence on European art, especially in impressionism.

Japanese woodblock prints were characterized by their asymmetrical compositions, use of strong diagonals and silhouettes, use of bold cropping techniques, elongated pictorial formats, aerial perspective and other new angles of vision, and a focus on expressively decorative motifs. Large 'flat' (unshaded) areas of vibrant colour were also conspicuous. They had no light source, and hence no shadows.

Eastern aesthetics inspired the creation of new art forms which came to be known as modernism, cubism and post-modernism.

The first modernist to incorporate elements of Japanese pictorial grammar was Edward Manet. Van Gogh, Renoir and Picasso, likewise were inspired by Japanese aesthetics.

Van Gogh was the first modernist who completely eliminated all traces of optical effects from his paintings. The Sunflowers, one of Van Gogh's most famous art works for instance, has neither light source nor shadows. The light in the Sunflowers is "internal". and no longer an optical illusion of optical reality, it has become a reality in its own right.Van Gogh took two years to learn this technique from Eastern artwork producing a masterpiece that gave the western mind the experience of viewing a painting through the eye of the viewer.

The realization that a painting is an artificial, two-dimensional medium, (and visually more expressive when treated as such), became a hallmark of modern art.

The movement that linked East to West was non figurative and based on calligraphic gestures. which can be found in the twentieth century works of abstract expressionist such as Paul Pollock, Pierre Soulages,and Frans Kline .



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Issey Miyake - Rhythm pleat series 1990. Where East meets West in Design. Eastern simplicity, holism integrated with western values of balance and symetry to produce an harmonious garment.Japanese fashion styles that seek to exaggerate past european stylistic periods with japanese detail  creates a cuteness aesthetic. Shanghai Tang a Chinese brand that incorporates Eastern traditional wear with Western design concepts.Layering is one of Korean fashion designs key features.
Issey Miyake - Rhythm pleat series 1990. Where East meets West in Design. Eastern simplicity, holism integrated with western values of balance and symetry to produce an harmonious garment.
Issey Miyake - Rhythm pleat series 1990. Where East meets West in Design. Eastern simplicity, holism integrated with western values of balance and symetry to produce an harmonious garment. | Source
Japanese fashion styles that seek to exaggerate past european stylistic periods with japanese detail  creates a cuteness aesthetic.
Japanese fashion styles that seek to exaggerate past european stylistic periods with japanese detail creates a cuteness aesthetic. | Source
Shanghai Tang a Chinese brand that incorporates Eastern traditional wear with Western design concepts.
Shanghai Tang a Chinese brand that incorporates Eastern traditional wear with Western design concepts. | Source
Layering is one of Korean fashion designs key features.
Layering is one of Korean fashion designs key features. | Source

How are Euro-Asian Values Expressed in Design?

Applied art refers to the interpretation of aesthetics in practical ways in the fields of design such as fashion, architecture, interior design, jewellery making, crafts..

European fashion designers from Ralph Lauren, Loius Vuitton, Channel, Givenchy have all found created collections with Asian inspired design concepts.

Today, Asian fashion designers are some of the most sought after in their field.

East-West complementarism concepts of design are expressed in Eastern countries like Japan,Korea and China

Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcon are major brands of Japan’s vibrant fashion industry.

In Japan, the cuteness factor is expressed in fashion and clothing design and brands such as

Lolita, Visual Kei, Dolly Kei, Fairy Kei. Each style incorporates Western themes such as girlie(Lolita), glam rock (Visual Kei) Vintage(Dolly Kei) Western toy themes (fairy Kei).

In Korea layering of yin yang elements incorporating mostly Japanese eastern aesthetics with Western chic.

In China, brands such as Shanhai tang are popular with traditional wear such as the ladies cheongsam and mens tangzhuang being updated and integrated with Western design concepts.

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Frank Loyd Wright. Hillside Home School, 1902, Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin the Winslow House, which combined Sullivanesque ornamentation with the emphasis on simple geometry and horizontal lines that is typical in Wright Houses.
Frank Loyd Wright. Hillside Home School, 1902, Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin
Frank Loyd Wright. Hillside Home School, 1902, Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin | Source
 the Winslow House, which combined Sullivanesque ornamentation with the emphasis on simple geometry and horizontal lines that is typical in Wright Houses.
the Winslow House, which combined Sullivanesque ornamentation with the emphasis on simple geometry and horizontal lines that is typical in Wright Houses. | Source

East Meets West: Architecture.

Japonism also reached American shores and influenced Frank Lloyd Wright, the first architect to develop an architectural style for the emerging industrial revolution. His revolutionary designs came to be known as the Prairie Houses.

Many architects of the day were inspired by Wright's work and created new designs using Eastern principles attractive to the West such as spatial concept; frame construction; natural beauty; flexibility and simplicity; Some architects adopted the formal issues directly, while others integrated the underlying principles in their work.

Wright graciously acknowledged his debt to Japan. He told an audience: "If Japanese prints were deducted from my education, I don't know what direction the whole might have taken."

Wright blamed the European modernists for failing to acknowledge the debt they owed to Japan.

The visuals and storyline within  movie The Matrix with Keanu Reeves a Euro-Asian role model storyline illustrates the blurring lines of space and time.
The visuals and storyline within movie The Matrix with Keanu Reeves a Euro-Asian role model storyline illustrates the blurring lines of space and time. | Source

Conclusion -The Future of Art and Design.

As art reflect life - It tells the story of the times and places our history in context. What does the future art and design foretell about mankind?

The homogenizing effect of technology blurs ethnic lines across regional bounds creating a global village with global citizens that share global values. The coming together of East and West signifies an androgynous future with the union of yin and yang energy. The fusion of art with technology. The blurring of lines in all areas - culturally, ethnically socially and Politically.



How Euro Asian Art Translates Into Design.

References

. (n.d.). Fashion fusion from east to west and back again. Retrieved November/December, 2014, from http://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/3280/fashion-fusion-from-east-to-west-and-back-again?page=1

Ledderose, L. (1991). Chinese Influence on European art: Sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Hongkong: Chinese Univ. Press.

Sasaki, K. (2013, June/July). Perspectives East and West (Doctoral dissertation, 2013) [Abstract]. Retrieved February 02, 2014, from http://www.contempaesthetics.org/newvolume/pages/article.php?articleID=670

Sullivan, M. (1973). The meeting of eastern and western art; from sixteenth century to the present day. New York: Graphic Society.

Ulrich, K. T. (2011). Design: Creation of artifacts in society. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania.

Ulrich, K. T. (2011). Design: Creation of artifacts in society. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania.

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    • firstday profile image

      R Beggs 2 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      I clicked beautiful and interesting because your hub is. Thanks for sharing.

    • Raine Law Yuen profile image
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      Raine Law Yuen 2 years ago from Cape Town

      Thanks for your feedback - I am glad that you found it interesting. I think we can learn a lot from art once we know what to look out for.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I did comment on this hub Raine, but it hasn't shown up. Anyway, well written and researched article.

    • Raine Law Yuen profile image
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      Raine Law Yuen 2 years ago from Cape Town

      Thanks Jodah, you inspire me. I have a few tweeks I still want to make but finally after much deliberation I have published this post.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Art has true meaning and always with great beauty of all sides of life. Which ever way one sees art it has an effect on cultures.

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