Great Wave Ashore at Boston Museum

The Great Wave.

“Under the Wave off Kanagawa” also know as “The Great Wave.”

I saw the street banners proclaiming “Hokusai” on my way from Logan Airport. It was a no brainer; I decided to visit the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. I perused their website. Seven decades of art by the internationally renowned “Great Wave” artist, Hokusai would be on view.

The cranes

“Umezawa Manor in Sagami Province.” Cranes are a symbol of longevity in East Asian art.

So I rode the Mass Transit Authority’s Green line for a direct route from downtown. I was fascinated by Hokusai. He inspired the French Impressionists who greatly admired his work. It was no wonder. This artist did paintings, wood prints, book illustrations, signs, silk scrolls, dioramas, and more. Hokusai seized every opportunity.

Warriors in combat.

Watanabe no Gengo Tsuna and Inokuma Nyudo Raiun.

He was a visionary who bucked tradition and used Prussian blue when black ink was the prevailing color. He instituted many other innovations. He led the way in subject matter (painting landscapes, still lifes, etc.) creating public demand. At the age of 70, he painted 36 views of Mount Fuji that included the “Great Wave.” I spent a day being mesmerized by this phenomenal artist with such humility. A narrative said he felt he did nothing that gained notice until he was in his 70s.

Diorama

Newly Published Cut-Out Lantern Picture: “Dance of the Gods at the Heavenly Cave.”

When he died in his 90s, his last words were said to be a plea for just five or 10 more years to paint.

After being caught up in the “Great Wave”, I paused quietly at “In the Wake Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11” exhibit. I was moved by artists speaking to the times in which they lived in. The exhibit focused on the earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011. The gut wrenching exhibit had “before and after” scenes. The artists compared the destruction caused by the Fukushima Nuclear Plant to the atomic bombs in 1945.

The Sun by Takashi Arai

“The Sun at the Apparent Attitude of 570 in WNW, Hijiyama Park.” The artist Takashi Arai took this image of the sun, waiting for it to perfectly align with the detonation point of Little Boy, the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

Before I departed the museum, I paid my respects to “Leonardo Da Vinci and the Idea of Beauty.” The exhibit ended June 14. The Hokusai exhibition will be on display through August 9. The photographic exhibit concludes July 12.

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is located at 465 Huntington Avenue.

The Museum of Fine Arts boasts the largest collection of Japanese art outside of Japan. For more information on the museum, visit mfa.org or call 617-267-9300.

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