Katsushika Hokusai: In the Tötömi Mountains - Honolulu Museum of Art

Artist: Katsushika Hokusai

Title: In the Tötömi Mountains

Date: c. 1830 - 1834

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Source: Honolulu Museum of Art
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The print is one of Hokusai’s most extraordinary designs; in it, he employs the boldest geometry of his compositional devices. A huge piece of lumber is propped diagonally on two pairs of triangular supports of different heights. Mount Fuji, framed by the taller support, is seen entwined by a curling cloud. Two lumbermen saw boards from the timber, one standing on top and the other beneath it. Another man repairs the blade of a saw, while a woman carrying her baby on her back talks to him. A young boy warms himself in front of a fire from which a gigantic plume of smoke, echoing the shape of the cloud around Fuji, trails into the sky. A combination of triangles dominates the composition. The diagonal of the timber joins an upper triangle, formed by hills at the right and the skyline, and a lower one, which defines the space for the other workers’ activities. The long plume of smoke moving to the right counterbalances the thrust of the timber. Hokusai sometimes appropriated another artist’s designs. Through reduction or exaggeration he could create compositions far more striking than his sources. This particular design was based on a scene from Shokunin zukushi ekotoba (Visual Depictions of Artisans) by Kuwagata Keisai (1764-1824), (See Kono 1966, fig. 67.) Tötomi province is located in the western part of what is today Shizuoka prefecture. Pale blue and gray dominate the color scheme. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 73. Cat. 24)

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