After Hokusai’s Great Wave

wave hokusai after

my attempt at the great wave after Hokusai.

I’m writing an assignment about the artist Hokusai and his ink and wood block print, The Great wave, or The Great Wave off Kanagawa produced around 1830. He had previously painted two other great waves in 1803 and 1805. There is a collection of 36 views of Mount Fuji by him.

I found out that he had been influenced by an artist called Shiba Kokan, who in turn had been influenced by Western Art. The Portuguese first started trading with the Japanese as early as 1543 and later the Dutch came along and started to trade with them in 1609.

Hokusai’s first waves were not as stylised as the Great Wave, but over the intervening 30 years he honed his style. His wave painting has a low horizon which gives it a more western and also menacing feel. The wave towers over three fishing boats, threatening to swamp them, Fingers of water claw the air in a very fractal pattern, and a tiny Mount Fuji sits in the background, apparently encircled by a threatening sea and lowering clouds.

Did you know the wave emoji is based on Hokusai’s work, and this in turn is linked to the waving hand emoji. There is a site called emojipedia that gives lots of interesting facts about emoji icons.

I wont go into great detail about the assignment, but I had to link in semiotics and other ways of critically appraising art works. I was up till 4am trying to pull it all together!

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Wave, after Hokusai

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Hard to copy, this is a small acrylic on canvas, based on the Japanese artist Hokusai’s picture of a massive wave seemingly threatening mount Fuji and boats fighting the turmoil of the water.

How does he draw that wave? Finger like  curves protrude from the water, white wavelets curve all in one direction. The water becomes a threatening mountain about to collapse. The height of the wave threatens not only the people in the boats, but it even dwarfs Mount Fuji itself.

When did he draw and paint it? He was a famous artist I think for a long time. We’re there other pictures and sea in his career? I think there were.

The image is so well recognised. Type in 🌊 wave on your phone and you get an icon which seems to symbolise Hokusai’s wave and mimics it.

How do you analyse such amazing work. How can you understand it. He makes me wish I could copy his style.