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The influence of Western techniques of painting was also felt by the
later ukiyo-e school of artists. Certain devices, such as realistic perspective, had been employed on occasion by ukiyo-e artists from about the
early 1700s, but it was not until the great nineteenth-century painters
Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) and Andò Hiroshige (1797–1858)
that the Western influence became pronounced.
Hokusai was a phenomenon even in the prolific world of Tokugawa
ukiyo-e art. Virtually unknown until he was about forty, Hokusai (who
later styled himself “the old man mad with painting”) absorbed the main
features of all the major art styles, native and foreign, then known in
Japan and produced literally tens of thousands of drawings and paintings
of a great variety of subjects over an incredibly active career that continued until his death, in 1849, at the age of eighty-nine. Hokusai is best
remembered for his landscape prints, especially his “Thirty-six Views of
Mount Fuji.” Curiously, Fuji, Japan’s greatest natural treasure and the
object of countless lyrical flights by Japanese poets, had until this time
received very little attention from Japanese painters. Possibly this was because Fuji’s wonderful symmetry simply was not in keeping with the generally angular, jagged conception of mountains and rock formations in the
highly influential Chinese tradition of monochrome landscape work. Significantly, the Western-oriented Shiba Kòkan was also attracted to Fuji
and sought to apply scientific techniques to produce a truly realistic painting of the mountain. Hokusai’s views of Fuji, on the other hand, are often
startlingly conceived, as for example the world-famous glimpse of its
snow-capped cone through a huge, curling wave (fig. 62).
Whereas Maruyama Òkyo self-consciously tried to merge Far Eastern
and Western art and Shiba Kòkan imitated Western painting outright,
Hokusai, with his boundless energy and enthusiasm, simply absorbed the
techniques of Western as well as other art styles and used them to shape Heterodox Trends 227 Fig. 62 “The Great Wave at Kanagawa” by Hokusai (The Metropolitan Museum
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13