THE BIGGEST PICTURE ON RECORD

THE WAVES AT KANAGAWA, c1823-9 26x37cms

 

NOTES ON THE PLATES SELECTED

TOP ROW

 

01 A typical deployment of studies in the pages of the MANGA

02 From Thirty Six Views of Fuji , "Hodogaya on the Tokaido Trunk Road"
25 x 36.

03 Detail of Ikei's wood engraving of a view of a print shop in Japan from which prints were sold. c1797

 

 

ONE HUNDRED VIEWS OF MOUNT FUJI - SELECTED PLATES

 

01 Preface and Tiltepage (Inner cover)

02 The Appearence of Mount Fuji in the Fifth Year of Korei, the moment when the mountain was created from the displacement of Lake Biwa - the power of the cration is such that it breaks the allotted frame of the print.

03 right, the Opening of Fuji, and left Sliding Down. The ascent of pilgrims and their descent through the shifting sands, a cinematic change of camera position and scale.

04 The Appearence of Hoeizen, a known volcanic explosion 53 years before Hokusai's birth. The slow pacing of the narrative sudedenly distegrates into chaos.

05 Fuji from a Pine Mountain. Smith records characteristic matsutake mushrooms in the basket carried by one figure.

06 Title Page (inside front cover) and right the explanatory Preface

07 Fuji in a Bamboo Grove.

08 Fuji and Ascending Dragon. The graphic formula for water changes gradually to cloud and mist patterns.

09 Fuji at Sea. The composition builds on the right and is about to break across the double pages, in the way the book is read. The Great Wave theme.

10 Fuji with Seven Bridges in one view. A graphic challenge of spatial relations and visual jokes.e.g. "How many bridges can you find in this composition?" Smith notes an advertisement for a Hokusai print that boasted a hundred bridges in the one composition.

11 Fuji in the Totomi Mountains. An exercise in point of view and various contrasts of scale. Sawyers are trimming and treating a large tree.

12 Fuji from Suidobashi, on the first page and a sudden change of scale for Fuji seen through a spider's web. Smith notes Hokusai's regular cavalier attitude to topographical accurcay, here in the treatment of the river.

13 Fuji at Torigoe on the right, a massive artistic here in the depiction of the Orrery and signifying the building of an observatory at the town, moving to Fuji over a waterfall with a woodcutter and family passing near.

14 Fuji behind a net, and left, Fuji under a bridge.

15 Left, Fuji from Rakanjii Temple with a huge and complex and left, Fuji from Senzoko , a double page spread bouncing one composition against the other

 

 

Hokusai; Sequence and Perspective in Book Illustration.


"At fifteen I set my heart on learning. At thirty, I was firmly established. At forty I had no more doubts. At fifty, I knew the will of Heaven. At sixty, I was ready to listen to it. At seventy, I could follow my heart's desire without transgressing what was right."


"From the age of six I had a penchant for copying the form of things, and from about fifty, my pictures were frequently published ; but until the age of seventy, nothing that I drew was worthy of notice. At seventy-three years, I was somewhat able to fathom the growth of plants and trees, and the structure of birds, insects and fish. Thus when I reached eighty years, I hope to have made increasing progress, and at ninety to see further into the underlying principles of things, so that at one hundred years I will have achieved a divine state in my art, and at one hundred and ten, every dot and stroke will be as though alive."

One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, (3 vols. 1834- 5, c1949), Fugaku Hyakkei, signed Zeen Hokusai Iitsu Gakyorojin.
 
This lecture explores the ways in which Hokusai deployed a series of images of Mount Fuji in a book of over a hundred wood engravings. Rather than present a narrative as we would understand it, he begins with a short sequence of images setting the scene and then deploys two sets of variables into a sort of web of possibilities.


Mount Fuji is 10,000 years old, the result of the third volcanic explosion at the site. It covers two previous Fujis. The present Fuji is still active with a crater to the right hand side of the outline when viewed from Shizuoka Peninsula. It is 12.388 feet above sea level and at the top is a shrine devoted to the spirits of medieval samurai.Mount Fuji was depicted by Hokusai in The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (1831) and apart from other artists and print makers, by Hiroshige The Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido .
 
Hokusai (1760 - 1849) obscure peasant origins, maybe from peasant family, apprenticed early to a wood engraver, and began to change his name (30 odd); 1778 pupil of Katsukawa Shunsho at the time of the apogee of the ukiyo-e, the multi-colouredf print (actresses, landscapes, animals etc)1790's studied Chinese paintings, greatly influenced by Dutch prints. Main work done after 1800. Hokusai Manga started 1815; 1831, Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji, and in 1834 One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji.
 
CONSIDERATIONS
 


1. The Object , a mountain
1.1 shape contour, outline
1.2 landscape
1.3 air
1.4 natural growth
1.5 water
1.6 human beings
1.7 architecture
2. The Book
2.1 sequence of pages
2.2 the paper
2.3 the single page
2.4 the double page
2.5 margin/frame
2.6 style
2.7 pattern

..... THIRTY SIX VIEWS OF MOUNT FUJI

 

 


BOOKLIST

 


Henry D. Smith Hokusai One Hundred Views of Mt.Fuji, Brazillier NY 1988


Jack Hillier The Art of Hokusai in Book Illustration Sotheby Parke Burnet 1980 Univ.of Calif Press


J.Hillier Hokusai Drawings Phaidon London 1968


Hillier and Smith Japanese Prints,300 years of albums and books Brit.Museum 1980


Joe Earle (ed) Japanese Art and Design Vict & Albert London 1986


William Watson The Great Japan exhibition , ex.catal. Royal Academy . London 1981/2


Victoria Manthorpe(ed) The Japan Diaries of Richard Gordon Smith Viking Penguin, Harmonds. 1986