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Early Rinpa artists advocated collaboration between artists and artisans associated with different media. In accordance with this tradition, Kamisaka Sekka embraced the idea of the ‘artist as designer’. As well as his activities as a painter, he worked closely with artisans who created objects based on his designs.

Following research trips to Europe in the early 20th century, Sekka incorporated motifs and decorative styles in his oeuvre that were drawn from art nouveau and, in particular, from the British Arts and Crafts movement. These influences imbued his designs with a modern flair that held international appeal.

Like his European counterparts, Sekka realised that design – industrial, interior and graphic – would play a dominate role in contemporary aesthetics. However Sekka’s exposure to modern European artistic trends also strengthened his determination to elevate Japanese decorative arts to the level of ‘fine art’ by raising an awareness of modern Japanese design and production.

Influenced by both traditional Japanese and contemporaneous European arts, Sekka’s bold, visually striking designs and innovative approach to production led him to become one of the great artistic visionaries of early 20th-century Japan.

Kamisaka Sekka Goldfish bowl 1905–15, hanging scroll: ink and colour on silk, 105.7 × 35.8 cm, Hosomi Museum, Kyoto