Like Davinci’s Mona Lisa, John Pasche’s Rolling Stone tongue, Andy Warhol’s Soup Cans, and The Creation of Adam; The Great Wave of Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai is a painting that has far surpassed the title of a mere ‘artwork’. The distinctly famous woodblock printed work is universally recognisable and timelessly relevant, even to folks who don’t engage with art on the reg.
The Great Wave, depicts three boats riding rough across huge foamy blue waves toward a tiny Mount Fuji, placed far off in the distance. It has inspired form and pattern in many other artworks, films, technology, and even couture fashion. Since it’s creation, somewhere between 1830 and 1834, it has emerged across many different facets of popular culture resulting in thousands of parody images that are brilliant and entertaining for the most part, and at times kinda boring and obvious.
Fortunately for you, in light of the Hokusai exhibition opening this month at Melbourne’s NGV, we have decided to compile a curated list of the best times this famous print has been appropriated, to reaffirm your fondness for the Hokusai’s work in time for the show’s opening on the 21st.
The retrospective at the NGV will include the gallery’s own ‘Impression’ of the print—there are several other editions in existence belonging to other well known galleries around the world; including The Met, LACMA in LA, and the British Museum. Also on display will be 176 additional works from Hokusai’s iconic series: Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji; which despite being widely known now, initially took a long time to be discovered.
The time that Hokusai first made these works, when Japan wasn’t as involved with the rest of the world as it is now, was is known as the Meji Era. It wasn’t until a good while after that, during the Post-Meji Era (as it is historically referred to) that Hokushi and other Japanese artists who were living and working at that time, gained the global recognition they deserved.
- by: Sabina McKenna