One of the most iconic art prints from Japan, The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai is an excellent example of old woodblock craftsmanship and elegant composition.
Having been to Kanagawa myself, Hokusai’s print reminds me that while Japan stands firm like Mount Fuji, it’s people will always have respect for the ocean, because they are always at the mercy of mother nature.
“The Great Wave off Kanagawa (神奈川沖浪裏 Kanagawa-Oki Nami-Ura?, lit. “Under a Wave off Kanagawa“), also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave, is a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Hokusai. An example of ukiyo-e art, it was published sometime between 1830 and 1833 (during the Edo Period) as the first in Hokusai’s series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei (富嶽三十六景?)), and is his most famous work. This particular woodblock is one of the most recognized works of Japanese art in the world. It depicts an enormous wave threatening boats near the Japanese prefecture of Kanagawa. While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami, the wave is, as the picture’s title notes, more likely to be a large okinami – literally “wave of the open sea.” As in all the prints in the series, it depicts the area around Mount Fuji under particular conditions, and the mountain itself appears in the background.
Copies of the print are in many Western collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the British Museum in London, the Art Institute of Chicago, and in Claude Monet’s house in Giverny,France. There is also a copy in the Asian Gallery of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.” – Wikipedia
For me, this print is about the beauty and respect that is found through nature; in the sea.
Because this print is so iconic, artists continue to adapted or modify it to their tastes.
I found a couple videos about this master craftsman and his famous master work.
I remember, from my art history days, that Japanese woodblocks helped inspire modern comic book art. It’s impossible not to see the relation. I guess it is true. We should all learn about what’s been done (our history) to help inspire our future.
- The big wave of Kanagawa (linesandscrews.wordpress.com)
- Fuji-san: World Heritage Site (americanhikikomorifilm.wordpress.com)
- Katsushika Hokusai: Beauty (michelinewalker.com)
- A Favorite Painting By Hokusai! (ctesthetic.com)