Yesterday’s Thoughts

September 10, 2007

Miscellaneous Museums

I was looking around on the web for some of the works of the Japanese printmaker Hokusai. Here is The Great Wave of Kanagawa, from his series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. The Great Wave of Kanagawa but if you are unfamiliar with his work I urge you to seek out a larger version and study up on the techniques of Japanese woodblock printing to try to comprehend how such detail could be produced. Wikipedia has an article but it is somewhat weak on the details of the technique. Here is a great set of illustrations and commentary on the technique from artist David Bull who is crafting reproductions of Edo and Meiji era prints by recarving and reprinting them.

If you do try to poke around on the Internet looking for prints, you might just come across this reproduction of the Great Wave (local cache). This is a fine lovely print, you can zoom in to see the detail, read a brief description and note the bequest by the Havemeyer family. (Zoom in on Mt. Fuji and the boats to appreciate the phenomenal detail.)

Art lesson over, the thing that jarred me about this web page was clicking on the “Next” button. That goes to this page (cached) containing a pair of Royal Earrings from 1st century Andhra Pradesh, India.

Could anything be more miscellaneous? Different styles, different techniques, different media; two works of art separated by two thousand years and four thousand miles. They have nothing in common beyond being art produced by human beings. To be fair to the Met, I jumped into a spot in their collection stream where it transitioned from Japanese to South-Asian, so I accentuated the effect. It was as if I were present in the gallery and I turned the corner from the East Asian Hall into the South Asian Hall. On the web, I didn’t have any visual clue that I was nearing a transition. The collection streams are organized chronologically by region, further heightening the transition.

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