Asian Art Influences in Modern American Art

When we talk about modern and contemporary American art, we rarely come to a conclusion that certain elements or patterns came from Eastern artists and art pieces. The modern American art stretches its roots to the late 19th century and the most predominant pieces can be found in the mid-20th century.

However, many of the abstract movements and styles that came during this period didn’t spontaneously flourish as a means to answer the current global and political happenings – they came to be under influences of Asian art and its creators.

The Colonial Days

The turbulent days of birth of the United States and the colonial period that came with it gave birth with many art pieces that we now consider to be classical. The United States had its fair share of dealings with China and Japan, which revolved around supply trades and material shipments in those days. However, many of the rich and powerful families of that age could afford having Asian art shipped from its home country to their doorstep in the Colonies. This means that the wealthy patrons of art in the US could enjoy Asian art in its original state, without copy or forgery involved.

Once the then contemporary pieces of Asian art found their place in galleries and public spaces of America, artists and patrons could focus their attention to finding correlations between the two continents. What came as a result are the modernism and its movements as we know them today, with many styles and elements in American art originating from the Asian continent.

The 20th century and Modernism

While the core period of Modernism and modern art as we like to call it stretches from WW I to WW II respectively, one could argue that the influences of Asian art can still be felt to this day. Movements such as Abstract art and Illusionism came to be under the wish of artists to step outside of their zone of comfort.

The same saturation with classical painting and the techniques of baroque and late Renaissance meant that artists were ready to change the game up and start thinking from scratch. Gone were the paintings of El Greco and Caravaggio only to be replaced with ornamental and decorative designs that originated from Japan and China.

The floral and otherworldly elements that can be found in Art Nouveau and later pieces can only be traced back to Asian influences that were starting to become the stuff of admiration for the saturated American eyes that were tired of seeing depictions of battles and important historic events.

The Asian-American art today

Whether we head to MoMA or one of the many galleries across the US, we are bound to see classical paintings contrasted by later 20th century creations with Asian influences. I think that the change that came with the increased import and sharing of mutual art between the two cultures did both a favor. Imagine if we had no idea about Asian calligraphy or pottery, instead continued to depict the many sights of our nation’s fight for Independence – I think it would be a dreary sight indeed.