Art from the Japanese artist Hokusai (1760- 1849) was brought to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C from March 14 to May 14. Although the crowd to see the great Japanese art was huge almost smothering seeing Hokusai’s art was worth being in the crowd. “The Great Wave” is probably his most recognizable art. The collection at the Sackler Gallery is from paintings, drawings, prints, printed books from other museums and private collections from Japan, Europe, and the United States.
He lived for 90 years according to Japanese historians. The museum notes that Hokusai was regarded in the west as “Japan’s most original artist as was a model for modern art movements.” The technique used was with color wood blocks, and the art has a look that of a master of color pencil sketch. That in no way discounts the art or Hokusai. The vibrant colors in the paintings almost make the objects pop out like 3-D. Even though I was basically surrounded by many people who were all trying to see these awesome, before it’s time art, I was still able to fall into the paintings. The paintings grabbed me. I was amazed to see what one was able to do so long ago basically using color pencils. He often used animals, water, people, flowers and other things in nature in his paintings. The way that he was able to use shadowing in his art helps the viewer to know the movement in which the object would have been making. If the object in the painting was of men in a sail boat the view can see the movement they were making. This is why the painting known as “The Great Wave” is so memorable and popular; the viewer can see the movement in the wave in the still painting.
He was also able to show human life through his work. In the paintings of women he was able to show them with great detail like in the painting “Woman with a hand mirror” the mouth on the woman is slightly showing her actions. The reason Hokusai is popular is because the paintings are so pleasant and soft, yet beautiful and colorful. This comes with his use of natural colors such as peach, and tan, also pinks. The bold colors are the blue and blue green usually to represent water or a sky. Because he used the bold colors for a calm sky the painting is pleasant. The blue used in paintings depicting moving waves of water evoke the feeling of how one would feel in a wave. The sketches that were also in the gallery, drawn with pencil are also done well enough to see the motions of the characters. The Sackler Gallery included huge panels of Hokusai’s paintings of the spiritual and supernatural universe. These works are magnificent as far as color and size but the smaller painting he did at a younger age are great in showing how talented Hokusai really was as an artist. Hokusai’s art should be studied and viewed more just for the cultural knowledge one can gain.