Monday, April 30, 2012

Hokusai: Paintings and Drawings

Where: Freer Gallery of Art

When: through June 24, 2012

This is the second of the three Hokusai exhibits I'll be seeing this spring.  I've already reviewed the Sackler's exhibit, "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji"; the final exhibit is also at the Freer and features Japanese screens.  For now, here's my write-up on his paintings and drawings.

The Freer's collection of Hokusai's painting and drawings is considered to be the finest in the world.  Again, I am grateful that I live in DC and work so close to the Mall that I can take advantage of all the Smithsonian (and the National Gallery of Art) has to offer.  Not only can I see this wonderful collection; I don't have to pay anything to do it.

It was difficult to choose a few favorites from this show; everything is worthy of comment.  The things I liked most were:

  • Four Fan Paintings Mounted on a Screen - these were assembled after his death.  They show each of the four phases of his career, so you get a nice overview of his work in one piece.
  • Breaking Waves - I love the trees in this picture; they have a sort of fuzzy quality that makes you want to reach out and touch them
  • Boy Viewing Mount Fuji - one of the most famous paintings in the Freer Japanese art collection; again, one sees the fuzziness of the leaves on the trees
  • Boy Playing a Flute - just a simple drawing, but so lifelike - really shows his talent for making a full picture out of just a few simple brushstrokes
Another thing I liked about this exhibit is that a lot of his late work was on display; many items were painted when he was 88 years old.  An inspiration to all of us, as we age, to keep working and producing.

Verdict: Well worth the short time it will take to see this show.  Even though I'd seen another Hokusai show quite recently, I was ready for more!

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