A Picture of Change for a World in Constant Motion ~ NYT

 

Early spring. A heavy sky. Chilly, but not bitter. We’re near Suruga Bay, on the south coast of Honshu; maybe you can taste the salt in the air.

 

The year is 1830 or so: the waning days of the Tokugawa shogunate. And from the northwest, a wind is blowing with the force of a steamroller.

It’s not his most famous work, but this is my favorite woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai: “Ejiri in Suruga Province.” It’s the 10th image in his renowned cycle “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.”

 

I love it most for how it captures an instant, with an exactitude that feels almost photographic. Here. Now. A country road, two trees, daytime: hold onto your hats.

And for something else: the story it tells about how images circulate in a cosmopolitan world.

 

Today Hokusai stands — for Western audiences, and in Asia too — at the pinnacle of “Japanese art.” But if you told the grandees of 19th-century Edo that Hokusai would become the most famous artist in the country’s history, they’d never believe you.

~~~  GREAT INTERACTIVE PIECE, CONTINUE  ~~~

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