Monday, March 14, 2011

Katsushika Hokusai (October 31, 1760 – May 10, 1849)

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

I was a bit divided about posting the above painting here, solely considering the terrible events that are now plaguing poor Japan, yet I've settled on adding the piece, not because of its thematic similarity to the devastating tsunami, but because it symbolizes for me, and for so many other individuals in the West, Japanese brilliance. In fact, that image is the first glimpse I ever had of Japanese work, and it is the first thing I think of, even today, when I muse on Japanese art. And I suppose that The Great Wave off Kanagawa may be viewed in many ways, but today I think it simply says that while nature is eternally violent, humanity is eternally persistent. 

Hokusai had a tremendous influence on a large number of artists here in the West, especially on artists such as van Gogh, Monet and Renoir. Japanese society has given us many beautiful cultural works, so, in return, if you can, please give them a bit of aid. There are a number of organizations currently accepting donations: World Vision, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, AmeriCares and globalgiving; this is obviously not an exhaustive list, so if you don't want to donate to these organizations, a half-a-minute's search should turn up something more palatable. 

Head of an Old Man

Chinese Warrior with Halberd

The Waterfall Where Yoshitsune Washed His Horse, Yoshino, Yamato Province
c. 1832

Hibiscus and Sparrow
c. 1830

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