Better Know the Great Wave | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios | Summary and Q&A

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May 19, 2017
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The Art Assignment
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Better Know the Great Wave | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

TL;DR

The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai is a woodblock print that has become an iconic image, symbolizing the power of nature and the human experience of being small in the face of larger forces.

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Key Insights

  • 🤙 The Great Wave is part of a series called "36 Views of Mount Fuji" and its true title is "Under the Wave Off Kanagawa."
  • 👹 Hokusai was a prominent ukiyo-e artist who incorporated both traditional Japanese and Western influences in his work.
  • 🉐 The print gained international recognition during a time when Japan was opening up to trade and European influences were gaining popularity.
  • ✊ The Great Wave symbolizes the power of nature and the human experience of being small in comparison.
  • 💨 The image has been used in various ways, from disaster relief to artistic inspiration, and continues to captivate audiences worldwide.
  • 👹 Hokusai's use of Western techniques helped bridge the gap between Japanese and European art, leading to a broader appreciation of Japanese culture.
  • 👣 The print's graphic quality and replicability have made it a popular and accessible image for reproduction and interpretation.

Transcript

SARAH GREEN: This episode is supported by Skillshare and our patrons, especially Indianapolis Homes Realty. You've seen this image before, a giant wave, its distinctive curly claws arched and ready to pounce. It's invoked when natural disaster strikes, but also when it's time to sell beer, jeans, and sweatshirts. It inspired Claude Debussy's orches... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the true title of The Great Wave and what does it depict?

The true title is "Under the Wave Off Kanagawa" and it depicts Mount Fuji in the distance, with fishermen rowing under a massive wave.

Q: How did Hokusai's use of Western influences impact his art?

Hokusai incorporated Western techniques such as linear perspective and the use of Prussian blue pigment, which was new to Japan at the time. This fusion of styles helped make his work popular both domestically and internationally.

Q: How did The Great Wave gain international recognition?

After Hokusai's death, trade opened up and his work was showcased at the 1867 International Exposition in Paris. This led to a craze for Japanese culture in Europe and his prints were admired and collected by many famous artists.

Q: How does The Great Wave symbolize the relationship between man and nature?

The print shows the immense power of nature, with the fishermen depicted as small and vulnerable against the massive wave. It serves as a reminder of our place in the world and the unpredictable forces we face.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The Great Wave is actually part of a series called "36 Views of Mount Fuji" and its true title is "Under the Wave Off Kanagawa."

  • The print depicts Mount Fuji in the distance, with fishermen rowing under a massive wave, symbolizing the tension between man and nature.

  • Hokusai was a prominent ukiyo-e artist in Japan during the Edo period, and his use of Western influences and techniques helped popularize his work internationally.

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