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Kabuki Theater- Art Deco

Japanese Kabuki Theater is a traditional form of Japanese theater founded in the Edo period (1603-1868). The world of Kabuki was a sealed world that could only to be entered if one was born into an acting family, or eimoto, where the head of the acting ‘house’ is the main actor, or teacher. Because of edicts passed in the Edo period, only males may act in Kabuki, leading to the world of onnagata actors, or female impersonators.

Since the 1850's Japanese art and society injected inspiration into European art and design. The Japanese use of pure color inspired the French Impressionist, in turn fueling the organic Art Nouveau movement of the 1870s. The term “Art Deco” was first used in the mid-1920s to describe designs typical of the leading French artists and designers who exhibited their work in the famous ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes’, held in Paris in 1925.

Young Russian artist, Alexandre Iacouleff (1887-1938) had traveled extensively through Mongolia, China and Japan, recording this mysterious cultures by watercolor and pastel in the 1920s. The stylized makeup of the Kabuki actors and their costumes mirrored the geometric fundamentals of the new art movement of Art DecoIacouleff's intriguing illustrations of that mysterious world of Kabuki theater is seen here interpreted through  the Art Deco prism with his use  of monochromatic color and strong angular design. By the 1930’s it had developed into a sophisticated and highly stylized form.. 






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