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  • Hokusai's Great Waves in Nineteenth-Century Japanese Visual Culture

Guth, Christine, 2011, Journal Article, Hokusai's Great Waves in Nineteenth-Century Japanese Visual Culture The Art Bulletin, XCIII (4). pp. 468-485. ISSN 00043079

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Abstract or Description:

This article looks at the cultural context in which Hokusai’s now iconic print ‘Under the Wave off Kanagawa’ was produced and consumed to explain how and why it came to be singled out from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, of which it is a part. Its originality lies in going beyond the biographical and connoisseurial approach to examine this woodcut within the maritime turn in visual culture that developed in the early 19th century as both product and producer of Japan’s shifting geopolitical circumstances, and especially its vulnerability to foreign incursions.
Guth’s 12,000-word essay is not only the first extended critical study of the woodcut but also the first to make a serious consideration of the political environment that informed both its creation and changing readings. While it takes Japan from the 1830s to 1860s as its focus, it throws light on the key factors that help to establish this image within the canon of world art. Since its publication, the article has become required reading in university courses on Japanese visual culture.
Guth first presented this material, based on research initiated during a year-long fellowship at the Stanford Humanities Center, in her prestigious three-part 2008 Toshiba Lectures in Japanese Art at SOAS and the British Museum, London, and the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, Norwich. She was also invited to provide a commentary on the woodcut in the 2010 BBC Radio 4 series A History of the World in 100 Objects. The essay forms the basis for the first chapter of her forthcoming sole-author book, The Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon, which will be published beyond the REF census period.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Identification Number or DOI: http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b619c0aa-e252-4aa6-91e6-21179a722773%40sessionmgr114&vid=5&hid=113
Date Deposited: 13 May 2012 13:59
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2013 19:25
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1014

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