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The Barker Code
of Color/Fabric Representation

Museum Masterpieces

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Homage to “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai, mixed media, 17x23. (2012)

“The Great Wave” is a color woodcut, 10 x 15 inches and was done in 1831 as a part of a series of woodblock prints known as “The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”. It is in the Asian collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760 to 1849) was born at Honjo Warigesui near what is now Tokyo. He changed his name more than 30 times and during his later life called himself (Gakyo Rojin Manji) “The Old Man Mad About Art”.

Briefly described: “The Great Wave” shows three boats caught in a massive storm at sea. The mysterious, sacred and enormous Mount Fuji has shrunken to a small cone in the center of the picture because it is so far away, and its shape is echoed by the secondary wave that is catching one of the fishermen’s boat.

More about the picture: A contemplative view of the pictures reveals a reference to the ancient Chinese icon of “Yin Yang” with the violence of the wave contrasting with the quiet of the sunlit sky behind it.

More about the artist: At age 19, Katshusika started learning the skills to produce woodcuts. His most important works were created after age 60. At age 80 he was found sobbing because he felt he had not captured the spirituality of the land/seascape he had just finished. When he died at age 89, he was still asking for an extension of ten more years, or even five more years in order to become “a true artist”. He was an eccentric man with a limited vision. He changed his dwelling place 93 times during his life, and turned out around 30,000 works of art.

SallyB’s comments: A very difficult piece; the terry cloth that is used for the foam of the wave is hard to work with. This took about nine months to complete.