We frequently see one art influencing another. Many painters were fascinated by music. In the West, contrasts and comparisons between the visual arts and music had been topics for debate since ancient times. Romanticism praised music for its freedom in emulating nature, its purity and spirituality. Then, at the start of the twentieth century, paintings that borrowed concepts from music and Abstract paintings taking the abstractness of music as their model were created. Musical instruments themselves were also included in paintings. For this year’s calendar, we have selected twelve works with music as their theme from the Ishibashi Foundation Collection. We hope that you will enjoy these works by artists from the East and West, including Édouard Manet, Paul Klee, and Fujishima Takeji.
1876, Oil on canvas, 81.0×116.0cm
Caillebotte's model in this painting was his younger brother Martial, a composer. The setting is a room with a piano in their residence on rue de Miromesnil, in what is now the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The wall ornaments, curtains, carpets, chairs, and other furnishings are decorated with botanical motifs in this depiction of the refined interior of a wealthy citizen of Paris. The light entering from the window is reflected from the keyboard and a piano leg. The keyboard and Martial's fingers are also reflected in the fall board, while the red and gold wall treatment is reflected in the lid of the piano. Caillebotte's style of realistically depicting his subject within his representation of space to give a sense of depth is quite unusual among the Impressionists. His was, as we learn from this painting, one variation in the Impressionist pursuit of depictions of light and shadow. Caillebotte showed this painting in the second Impressionist exhibition, in 1876
1902, Oil on canvas, 197.5×94.0cm
A woman dressed in a costume from antiquity and carrying an ancient angular harp is depicted standing underneath a paulownia tree. This painting is not only the most significant work from Fujishima’s early period but also exemplifies Japan at the turn of the century, when Meiji-era fascination with Japan’ ancient past was at its peak. Fujishima himself stated that when he traveled to Nara, he saw an angular harp in the Shosoin, the eighth century imperial treasure house; his thoughts traveled to the long-ago Tempyo era, giving him the idea for this work. He also commented that he had referred to the Woman Under a Tree screen panels, also in the Shosoin, and other examples of Japan’s oldest paintings. Fujishima set off to study in Europe two years after producing this painting, which might be called the result of a skillful fusion of yearning for the as yet unseen West and for Japan’s ancient past.
1932, Oil and sand mixed plaster on panel, 55.2x85.2cm
Klee’s passion for music is reflected in his use of symbols suggestive of notes and scores in his paintings. He also incorporated his interpretation of the musical method of polyphonic composition. Polyphony is a form of music in which distinct melodic lines proceed at the same time, each maintaining its independence. In this painting, three melodic lines are in play: areas of dilute red, blue, and yellow extend over the brown ground, a thick line defines the island, and dots cover the entire surface. While appreciating each of those melodies separately, we enjoy the counterpoint and harmony in the painting as whole. The dots in this painting, reminiscent of musical notation, are unrelated to the pointillist dots of color associated with Signac, Matisse, and Mondrian.
1947, Watercolor on paper, 60.6×47.9cm
In 1947, Nakanishi and his family returned to their home in Nakano Ward, Tokyo, from the place to which they had been evacuated during the war. There was a large black piano on the veranda, and Nakanishi himself would play it when he was not painting. The child at the table seems to be drawing a picture, but also appears a bit dozy. The model was probably Nakanishi’s second or third son. The composition is determined by vertical stripes and checks; the contrasts between white and black and between the square and rounded forms create a crisply rhythmic effect. The studio that Nakanishi had beside his house was destroyed during their compulsory evacuation, so that at this time he was painting a great deal at home or out of doors. The year after producing this painting, he fell ill and died before his new studio could be completed.
1891, Lithograph 166.9×123.0cm
Lautrec moved to Montmartre, with its bars, cabarets, dance halls and circuses, and the pleasures of its night life became motifs in his art. When the Moulin Rouge dance hall opened in 1889, eyes were drawn to the red windmill on its roof. Lautrec became a regular, and, in 1891, the proprietor of the Moulin Rouge commissioned Lautrec to create this lithograph, his first poster. It was an immediate success. In the center, performing the can-can, is the Moulin Rouge’s star dancer, La Goulue (The Glutton). In front of her, shown as a silhouette, in profile, is her regular partner, Valentin le Désossé (Valentin the Boneless). He was regarded as an excellent dancer.
1940, Mixed media on cardboard, 60.0×70.0cm
Kandinsky, a pioneer of Abstract painting, was a theorist of Abstraction as well as an artist. His Concerning the Spiritual in Art, a theoretical treatise on art, is particularly famous. The first work he produced that actualized his conviction that painting, like music, must be a “pure” means of expression dates from 1910 to 1912. Two Lines was created three decades later, near the end of his life. In it, two lines, which intersect at an acute angle, divide the painting into three parts, in each of which Kandinsky has placed his own distinctive forms. Note, too, how Surrealist forms cross the parts’ boundaries float across the upper and lower two of the three parts. Painted under the harsh conditions that prevailed during World War II, this work nonetheless brims with this artist’s free and playful sense of form.
1924, Oil on canvas, 126.0×91.3cm
In 1921, after six months in France, Koide returned to Osaka with new habits: wearing Western clothing and eating bread and coffee for breakfast. Those were signs of his heroic resolve to alter his lifestyle to a Western mode in order to understand and tackle oil painting head on. In September of 1923, Koide lived through the Great Kanto Earthquake. The reality of having his world collapse in a brief moment was an enormous shock to Koide. That horrific experience proved a turning point for him; his canvases, which had been stuffed with numerous subjects, were suddenly cleared and ordered. This painting, from August of the following year, is of almost monumental size compared with most of Koide’s work, which tended to be small. From it we can see his self affirmation, his testimony that he was indeed a painter.
1947, Stencil, 42.2×65.5cm
In the 1940s, stencils became an important medium for Matisse. His illustrated book ”Jazz” contains color prints of twenty stencils. Their motifs include the circus, folk tales, and travel, but none directly depict jazz music. According to the editor, E. Tériade, the reason for the book’s title is that “Stencils capture the spirit of jazz. Music was an indispensable part of Matisse’s life, and his stencils resemble jazz.” Matisse said “a painter chooses his colors as a jazz musician chooses his notes, to maximize impact. The colors do not dominate the drawing but work with it”.
1920, Oil on canvas, 99.2×139.5cm
Bacchus is the Roman equivalent of Dionysius in Greek mythology: the god of wine, the lord of festivals, the inspirer of ecstatic states. The many tales about Bacchus always feature drunken, dancing worshippers and animals following the deity. Bacchanalia is a preliminary drawing for a decorative panel for which Denis had received a commission from a fur shop in Geneva named Tigre Royal (“Bengal tiger”). For a preliminary drawing, it was, fortunately for us, rendered in considerable detail, for the finished panel was later split up and this drawing is now our only guide to what the composition as a whole looked like. Was the tiger placed in the center at the client’s request?
1873, Oil on canvas, 46.7×38.2cm
Edouard Manet produced several paintings of masked balls, as well as studies for them. The most polished and complete of these, in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., was one that Manet submitted to the Salon. It was rejected, possibly because of its risqué content. In this version, a group of black-clad men in silk hats and tailcoats surrounds masked women wearing colorful costumes. The women are dancers and courtesans who are being seduced by those upper-class men. Manet liked painting such scenes of the manners and customs of his times. The eddy of people in between the two large pillars in the painting is depicted with a bold, swift touch that communicates the bustling motion of the crowd and its excitement.
1907, Oil on canvas, 73.3x61.5cm
A woman, playing a drum, is wearing a kimono with Genroku-era motifs; her hair is dressed in the old-fashioned style known as the tate-hyogo. In the background is a Rimpa-style bird-and-flower screen with gold ground. The model was Takahashi Chiyoko, spouse of Takahashi Yoshio (Soan), a tea practitioner who was also involved in the management of the Mitsukoshi Drapery Store (now Mitsukoshi Ltd.). At the time this painting was completed, Takashi was engaged in modernizing Mitsukoshi and, aiming at a contemporary revival of traditional motifs, was working out a plan to focus particularly on motifs from the mid-Edo Genroku era. The Western-style artist who complied with his wishes in creating this painting was Okada Saburosuke, whose studies in Paris had intensified his fascination with traditional Japanese culture upon his return. Takahashi’s plans and Okada’s interests combined in this work, which was used in a Mitsukoshi poster that was used throughout Japan.
1942, Oil on canvas, 65.2×81.1cm
For Dufy, a violinist himself, music played a critical role in his paintings. In addition to his frequent use of music-related motifs (including musical instruments and scores), he created series of paintings on musical themes, such as Tribute to Mozart, Tribute to Bach, Chamber Orchestra, and Violin. Dufy began working in earnest on a series with a full-scale orchestra as its subject in 1941. In this painting, he has depicted the orchestra in the middle of a performance as seen from a high vantage point, so that the members of each section are distributed widely over the canvas. Each musician is shown playing his instrument, music stand before him. With deft line and color, Dufy brings the polyphonic resonances of the orchestra to us, almost audibly.