January 4, 2005

The Great Wave


The Breaking Wave Off Kanagawa. Also called The Great Wave. Woodblock print from Hokusai's series Thirty-six Views of Fuji, which are the high point of Japanese prints. The original is at the Hakone Museum in Japan.

Hokusai's most famous picture and easily Japan's most famous image is a seascape with Mt. Fuji. The waves form a frame through which we see Mt. Fuji in the distance. Hokusai loved to depict water in motion: the foam of the wave is breaking into claws which grasp for the fishermen. The large wave forms a massive yin to the yang of empty space under it. The impending crash of the wave brings tension into the painting. In the foreground, a small peaked wave forms a miniature Mt. Fuji, which is repeated hundreds of miles away in the enormous Mt. Fuji which shrinks through perspective; the wavelet is larger than the mountain. Instead of shoguns and nobility, we see tiny fishermen huddled into their sleek crafts as they slide down a seamount and dive straight into the wave to make it to the other side. The yin violence of Nature is counterbalanced by the yang relaxed confidence of expert fishermen. Oddly, though it's a sea storm, the sun is shining.
Hokusai and Japanese Art by Andreas

Hokusai, Fuji Seen From the Sea. 1834. Woodblock. From the series A Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji.

Posted by Vanderleun at January 4, 2005 8:20 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

There are several superb museums in Hakone. Unforgettable. It's also a hot-springs area.

Posted by: pst314 at January 8, 2005 8:29 AM