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based on depth. “Winter Landscape” (fig. 37) illustrates the major new
features of Sesshû’s art. Although the scene leads to mountains in the
distant background, there is no sense of great depth; and the mountains
themselves are not even three-dimensional, but resemble flat cutouts
propped against the back of the picture. The most startling part of the
winter landscape, however, is its top center, where a jagged black line appears like a tear in the picture and, next to it, there is an abstract mosaic
of surfaces that looks startlingly like the work of a modern cubist painter.
By Sesshû’s time, it had become standard practice for artists to sign
or affix their personal seals to all of their works. Hence, there is little
doubt about the authenticity of the many paintings of his that have been Fig. 37 “Winter Landscape” by Sesshû (Tokyo National Museum) 134 The Canons of Medieval Taste preserved. One of Sesshû’s most famous pieces, still owned by the successor family to the Òuchi in Yamaguchi, is a horizontal landscape scroll
some fifty-two feet in length and sixteen inches in height known as the
“Long Landscape Scroll.” It directs the viewer, as he runs his eyes from
right to left, through an ever-shifting but integrated series of landscape
settings and changing seasons. Sesshû’s special love for the axlike, angular
strokes of the standing style of brushwork is particularly evident in this
scroll. We can also observe in it—in addition to the inclination, as in the
“Winter Landscape,” to flatten surfaces—a liking for the decorative placement of objects in a manner that was to become increasingly marked
among Japanese painters from the sixteenth century on.
Another outstanding painting by Sesshû is the hanging scroll or kakemono that depicts Ama-no-Hashidate, a bay on the Japan Sea coast to
the northeast of Kyoto (fig. 38). Sesshû’s use of a soft style to reproduce
this lovely setting of mountains, water, and an unusual pine-covered sandbar extending nearly across the m...
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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 UBC.
- Spring '13