Art: Japanese with A French Accent

A show traces what Nippon's painters took home from Paris

The winter's main show at Manhattan's Japan House Gallery, "Paris in Japan," is not popular stuff. Its subject looks almost quaintly peripheral. It sets out to describe the impact of French art on Japanese artists who went to Paris between 1890 and 1930, the highest years of French influence on world culture. It does not contain a single masterpiece; almost everything in it is derivative, and not always very intelligently so. One would not normally cross the street to see earnest Japanese pastiches of Renoir, looking like inflamed rubber dolls. The only artist in it whom anyone in America is likely...

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