Assignment 1

From Hokusai to O’Keefe –Flowers in art from East and West


Research Question: My research proposal is for a comparative study of images of flowers produced by artists in Japan and the West from the late-Edo Period to the outbreak of the 2nd World War (c1830-1940). The study will consider images of flowers and how they may have been influenced by major artistic events in this period, including Japonisme, Orientalism and the invention and development of photography. I will look at Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints by Hokusai and Hiroshige and the photographs of Kazumasa Ogawa. I will consider the influence that Japanese art may have had on Vincent van Gogh and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. In addition, I will consider the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe and the photographs of Karl Blossfeldt and Imogen Cunningham and compare these with traditional (Nihonga) and western-influenced (Yoga) art of Japan of that time.

Creative Direction: My chosen theme is images of flowers and the threats that they face. This will differ from traditional flower images in that to illustrate both the flowers and threats may require multiple images and/or a combination of media. The Research will influence my own practice in the Body of Work module; I will produce a series of images of flowers that will have been influenced by my studies of Japanese and Western artists. In producing the photographs, I will not only learn from artists of the period, but it will also inform my Research. It will give me a better understanding of how some of the images (particularly photographs) were achieved in that I will have tried to produce versions of them in my practical work.

Texts, Resources, Creatives and Gatekeepers:

TEXTS: I have already accessed a large number of texts on the subject, key texts include:

  • Ewing (2002) Gives an excellent overview of flower photography from the mid-19th to the late 20th century [Ewing, W.A. (2002) Flora Photographica: Masterpieces of Flower Photography. London: Thames and Hudson.]
  • Wichmann (1981) Is a thorough review of the concept of Japonisme, what it is and the effect that it had [Wichmann, S. and Whittall, M. (1981) Japonisme: The Japanese influence on Western art since 1858. London: Thames and Hudson]
  • Mason (1993) gives an excellent overview of Japanese painting [Mason, P. (1993) History of Japanese art. New York: Abrams]


RESOURCES: I have discovered a number of useful resources and have already taken advantage of some of them:

The Lisa Sainsbury Library in Norwich is part of the The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Culture. It has a wide collection of books, journals and other materials relating to all aspects of Japanese arts and cultures. I have already made contact with the librarian and referred to a number of texts there.

The National Art Library at the V&A Museum has an extremely wide collection of Art Books. I have already taken out membership of the library.

Norwich University of the Art is a local art library and has a particularly wide selection of books on photography and photographers. I have taken out external membership of the library.

The study rooms at the British Museum and the V&A Museum are available to study the Museums holdings of prints and photographs.

KEY CREATIVES: Among others I will study the prints, paintings and photographs of flowers made by Japanese artists including Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kazumasa Ogawa. I will compare these with those produced by Western artists and photographers such as Van Gogh, Blossfeldt, Imogen Cunningham and Georgia O’Keefe.

GATEKEEPERS: The main gatekeepers will be librarians and curators of the institutions listed in the list of RESOURCES above.

Time Scale and Plan of Campaign

I have already undertaken a lot of background research that will contribute to this research and body of work. Over the next 15 months I intend to complete Parts 1-5 of each of the two modules which will allow a couple of months to finalise the final written piece and body of work in time to submit for assessment.

TASK Deadline

Assignment 1 – Review and amend following tutor feedback


End of December 2019



Assignment 2 – Continue creative work and research for final written work.

Produce draft literature and resources review

Review and amend following tutor feedback



End of March 2020


End of April 2020

Assignment 3 – Continue creative work and summarise research for final written work.

Review and amend following tutor feedback

End of June 2020


End of July 2020


Assignment 4 – Continue creative work and produce first draft of final written work


Commence review and analysis of Body of Work



End of October 2020



End of November 2020


Assignment 5 – Amend and rewrite as necessary final written work in the light of tutor feedback


Produce review and analysis of Body of Work


Review and amend following tutor feedback



End of January 2021



End of January 2021


End of February 2021


Strengths And Weaknesses:


From previous Art History Courses


  • Report others views rather than form own opinions
  • Look at all possible sources rather than focus on most relevant
  • Always exceed word count and have to cut back
  • Can get stressed



  • Enjoy research and reading
  • Usually meet deadlines, although can leave it to the last minute
  • Very interested in influence of art on photography
  • Easy access to Lisa Sainsbury Library and Norwich University of the Arts
  • Close enough to London to enable visits to V&A and British Museum

In terms of my weaknesses I believe that I have had experience from previous OCA modules that I can learn from. I am conscious that I will be expected to form my own opinions and conclusions rather than simply report those of others, keeping this in mind should help to counteract the weakness. I will have to resist the temptation to carry on researching this topic – I will probably need to restrict the number of individual artists that I look at in depth.