Waving Not Drowning

By now nearly every human being on the planet has seen one version or another of the iconic painting above. What do most of us really know about this sublime work of art ? When woodcut artist Katsushika Hokusai made his famous print The Great Wave off Kanagawa in 1830 — part of the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji — he was 70 years old and had lived his entire life in a Japan closed off from the rest of the world. In the 19th century, however, “the rest of the world was becoming industrialized,” James Payne explains below in his Great Art Explained video, “and the Japanese were concerned about foreign invasions.” The Great Wave shows “an image of Japan fearful that the sea — which has protected its peaceful isolation for so long — would become its downfall.”

 

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