August 02, 2014

Katsushika Hokusai: Japanese Artist



Perhaps the best-known artist from Japan, Katsushika Hokusai, was  unique among his contemporaries, as well as an inspiration to artists in The West.

"The Great Wave", above, is one of my favourites. It only exists as a print and I have one.

I also have a small Japanese  embossed cylindrical vase depicting this painting.I think most people have seen this beautiful print of what is no doubt a tsunami.

The You Tube clip above shows many other examples of his fine work.

From the Met Museum:

The preeminence of this print—said to have inspired both Debussy's La Mer and Rilke's Der Berg—can be attributed, in addition to its sheer graphic beauty, to the compelling force of the contrast between the wave and the mountain. 

The turbulent wave seems to tower above the viewer, whereas the tiny stable pyramid of Mount Fuji sits in the distance. The eternal mountain is envisioned in a single moment frozen in time. Hokusai characteristically cast a traditional theme in a novel interpretation. In the traditional meisho-e (scene of a famous place), Mount Fuji was always the focus of the composition. Hokusai inventively inverted this formula and positioned a small Mount Fuji within the midst of a thundering seascape. 

Foundering among the great waves are three boats thought to be barges conveying fish from the southern islands of Edo. Thus a scene of everyday labor is grafted onto the seascape view of the mountain.

Also from The Met:

Viewing the Sunset over Ryōgoku Bridge from the Onmaya Embankment

With the view of Ryōgoku Bridge in the distance, Hokusai focuses on a ferry carrying an assortment of merchants, monks, and a bird catcher—identifiable by the tall rod he carries—home after a day's work. The mood is subdued as night gradually overtakes the evening sky and the ferry's passengers nod beneath their broad hats or gaze at the distant bridge. While the foreground is sharply defined in the aizuri blue-line technique, the background view of the bridge, boats, and far shore is executed in lineless silhouetted forms of mute grey and green. Twilight has cast the river view in a dreamy hushed tone.

A note of tension is inserted by the needle-sharp bird catcher's rod shooting in the sky. This vertical element is played off against the squat pyramid of Mount Fuji, etched against the sky in deep indigo blue. 

Though small, Mount Fuji commands a strong presence in this picture, which is part of a series of "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji." Contrasted to this symbol of tradition, however, is the elegant silhouette of Ryōgoku Bridge, impressive testimony of modern Edo engineering know-how.

Some other posts on Art include:
Van Gogh On Dark Water Animation
This Fake Rembrandt Was Created By An Algorithm  

Fore-edge Painting: Artists Hide Paintings Along The Edges Of Old Books  

Insanely Realistic Pencil Drawings

Found: A Missing Paul Gauguin Painting

Royal Academy of British Art Coming To Town

Australia and the UK Battle Over Historic Paintings Of A Kangaroo And A Dingo

Finally: A Digital Home For Lost Masterpieces

America: "Painting a Nation" Exhibition in Art Gallery of NSW

Chauvet Cave Paintings: Cave Women Left Their Artistic Mark

London exhibition of Australian art holds up a mirror to our nation: more iconic images
500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art

Some Fascinating Pictures featuring Alyssa Monks

Visual Art of the Human Body by Cecelia Webber

Ronnie Wood: His Art and The Rolling Stones

The lost Van Gogh: Painting found in Norwegian attic is confirmed as priceless work by Dutch master

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Charles Dellschau: Secrets of An Undiscovered Visionary Artist

Tom Pinch: Time - Lapse Portraits of Paul McCartney and John Lennon

How JMW Turner Set Painting Free 

The Curious Case Of The Renaissance Cockatoo

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Human Ingenuity: From the Renaissance to the Age of the Internet - The Sistine Chapel

Katsushika Hokusai: Japanese Artist

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 Optical Illusions In Art

MC Escher: An Enigma Behind an Illusion                                                  
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