Kimono
Silk (?), cotton lining
Stenciled warps, hand tied dyed wefts at intervals

In the Edo period, garments often have one or two colors. Multicolored garments took much more time to produce, and so were much more expensive and therefore far less common. Colors were added strategically – to a bird wing, to a flower petal, to a border, etc.

In this early 20th century kimono patterned with leaves, the designer has added splashes of red, yellow, blue and green for the sheer joy of the color, rather than to bring out the features of the leaves.

In early 20th century western art there was a strong movement toward the celebration of color for its own value, and it seems likely that the artist who designed this fabric was familiar with that movement. Below are two examples of paintings of the period using the same very strong colors.

Above, Arthur Dove’s Sunrise, 1924. Below, Kandinsky’s Lyrical, 1911. Both have identifiable subjects, but in both the subject seems little more than a pretext the artist uses to focus on the beauty of the colors.

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