Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mt Fuji View 14

View from Meguro in Edo. 14th of the 24 Views of Mt. Fuji.

I've finished my sketches and have gone on to other prints of Hokusai. Now we're getting into linework that inspired Van Gogh. He copied several Ukiyo-e prints, one of geishas and Hiroshige's Sudden Rain.

Van Gogh's letter to his sister. "When we study Japanese art, we see a man who is no doubt wise, philosophical and intelligent. And how does he spends his time? Studying the distance between the earth and the moon? No. Studying the political theories of Bismarck? No. He studies a single blade of grass. But this blade of grass leads him to draw plants of all kinds, then the seasons, the overall aspects of the landscape, then animals, and finally, the human figure. This is how he spends his life, and life is too short to do the whole. Come now, isn't it almost a true religion which these simple Japanese teach us, who live in nature as though they themselves were flowers? And it seems to me that we cannot study Japanese art without becoming much gayer and happier, and we must return to nature despite our education and our work in a world of conventions."

Vincent never visited Japan but looked at the woodblock prints that were available. He visited Japan with his mind's eye.


Kim Saxe said...


I am glad you are going on to other prints and that the 24 Views are not the last of this great project of yours. Perhaps you will do the 8 Waterfalls. I am waiting for the holiday to complete my first waterfall. I need the calm to draw the people. :) I can't wait to see your future work.

I was surprised to learn (only five years ago) that Van Gogh had been inspired by Japanese art. Many of the things that I love about his work came from the Japanese. There was/is a painting at the Princeton Art Museum that I would go to see whenever I visited. It was a Chinese or Japanese landscape done in the style of Van Gogh...which was really the style of the Japanese...it's all very recursive and combined, isn't it? I would stand in front of it for a long time, trying to memorize it, since photography was not allowed. When our son graduated, I went for my annual pilgrimage, and it was no longer on display. I guess it was time for him to leave. :)


Sandy said...

I am REALLY enjoying your blog. I check here daily since I've found it. This is beautiful.