No34 [Book] Post-mortem of a worldwide success


One of the most characteristic works of Japanese art is undoubtedly Kanagawa Oki no namiura (under the wave off Kanagawa), better known today as The Great wave off Kanagawa. This woodblock print was produced in the 1830s by Katsushika Hokusai, a great print master, and over time it has come to symbolize Japan. In her excellent book, Christine Guth has taken the time to understand why this magnificent wave ended up representing Japan throughout the world. from the era of Japanism at the the end of the19th century, which led Claude Debussy to choose the print to illustrate the first edition of La Mer, she carefully explains the process leading to it still being used in the present day to evoke Japan at the time of the 2011 tsunami, or to express the power of the Japanese economy.

Hokusai’s Great Wave, Biography of a Global Icon, by christine m. E. Guth, University of hawaii Press, £18.50