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Beyond «The Great Wave»

The Japanese Landscape Print, 1727-1960


James King

The Japanese landscape print has had a tremendous influence on Western art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In Japan and in the West it is often seen as the dominant form in Ukiyo-e, pictures from the floating world. And yet for all its importance, it is a genre whose history has never been written. Beyond The Great Wave is a survey or overview for all those interested in discovering the inner dynamics of one of art history’s most remarkable achievements. However, it is also a quest narrative, in which landscapes and notions of Japan as a homeland are intertwined and interconnected.
Although there has never been a book-length study of the Japanese landscape print in either Japanese or English, a great deal has been written about the two giants of the genre, Hokusai and Hiroshige. From what traditions did these two nineteenth-century artists emerge? Who were their predecessors? What influence, if any, did they have on other Ukiyo-e artists? Can their influence be seen in the shin-hanga and sôsaku-hanga artists of the twentieth century? This book addresses these issues, but it also looks at a number of other factors, such as the growth of tourism in nineteenth-century Japan, necessary for understanding this genre.
Contents: The Great Wave – The Anxieties of Influence: Chinese Abstraction, Japanese Reality – Outsiders within the Floating World: Ukiyo-e Landscape Prints, 1727-1830 – Hokusai, the Perfect Artist – Hiroshige, the Perfect Eye – Poetical Landscapes, Meiji Illuminations – Memory and Nostalgia: Shin-hanga – Renewals: Sôsaku-hanga.