"It's about movement, creation and destruction."
August 9, 2017 11:38 AM   Subscribe

For 20 years now, Swords' house in Camberwell, south London, has had a copy of Hokusai's Great Wave (or Under the Wave off Kanagawa, to give it its actual title) painted across its back. Just as in Hokusai's original - which master cutters carved into multiple blocks of wood, so it could be printed again and again - the wave is cresting, dozens of foam fingers stretching out from it. But on the house it looks as if it's about to break into the alley below, and drench anyone passing by, rather than drench the sailors Hokusai painted in three wooden boats.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (25 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
My favorite riff on the Great Wave is Wave Of The Future.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:38 AM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


A couple eyeballs and it's a whole different picture.
posted by GuyZero at 11:50 AM on August 9, 2017 [7 favorites]


My favorite is the bunnies.

Outside my place in Oakland is a trash can with a mosaic of the wave passing in front of the cranes.
posted by Mapes at 11:54 AM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


GuyZero, before I clicked I imagined the wave as black and studded with various-sized eyeballs, which would be an excellent illustration of a Shoggoth. I might have to create that myself now.
posted by ejs at 11:58 AM on August 9, 2017 [6 favorites]


Watch me forever change the way a lot of people see this print, and diminish their experience of most copies:
The shape of the wave is almost perfectly reproduced (inverted) in the negative space above it. To me, this quality is central to the beauty and balance of the piece as well as its thematic meaning, and its loss or distortion in most of these reinterpretations pretty much borks up the whole thing.
(Sorry)
posted by Krawczak at 11:59 AM on August 9, 2017 [10 favorites]


The Great Wave also makes a brief, breathtaking appearance in the animated film Miss Hokusai.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 12:00 PM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


My favorite is the bunnies.

Uprisings, by kozyndan. Originally for a magazine cover, it became part of a season sequence. Uprisings is Spring, Bunny Blossoms is Summer , The Bunnies Fall is Autumn, and Grey Hares is Winter.
posted by zamboni at 12:14 PM on August 9, 2017 [4 favorites]


I love all things ukiyo-e. I had no idea the British Museum had a copy of The Great Wave, until I randomly stumbled upon it on the fourth floor whilst reeling from the sheer enormity of the museum (too much! too much!!!). (My prized art possession is a print of this, by Hokushu. I got it off eBay for like $20--someone didn't know what they had after cleaning out grandma's attic.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:17 PM on August 9, 2017 [3 favorites]


My favorite riff on the Great Wave is Wave Of The Future.
This was my first exposure to Hokusai’s wave, via an early 80s wall hanging at the ultra-80s home of our super-80s wealthy family friends.

(edit) There is a making-of.
posted by migurski at 12:18 PM on August 9, 2017 [3 favorites]


How did it come to be something people would want on their home?

*deep sigh*
posted by adept256 at 12:19 PM on August 9, 2017


Love this, will try and detour there in a few weeks when I'm home.
posted by ellieBOA at 1:00 PM on August 9, 2017


How did it come to be something people would want on their home?

"Why don't they just keep the disgustingly mildewed stucco as-is?"
posted by Sys Rq at 1:02 PM on August 9, 2017


After the most recent flooding in my New Orleans neighborhood I'm tempted to paint one on the side of my house. Maybe it would remind those jerks not to speed down a flooded street and create wake that enters people's houses.

... I'm kidding. Nothing will ever remind people not to do that.
posted by komara at 2:52 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


I used to live around Camberwell, never noticed that mural though. I do remember the giant paper mache carrot that used to be on Camberwell Green.
posted by memebake at 3:38 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


Memebake, me too!
posted by mollymillions at 4:18 PM on August 9, 2017


The red, spray-paint-idiom version later in that story is so good because it's both clearly Hokusai and clearly not Hokusai. The Great Wave, even more than the rest of his work, is somehow decomposable so the original and novel parts interact well (even the 80s book cover version is good among 80s book covers).
posted by clew at 4:21 PM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


In the copies I've seen, those aren't sailors in the boats, they're skeletons. Or have I projected just a mite?
posted by Hobgoblin at 4:32 PM on August 9, 2017


Ahh! As I was reading, I was hoping they had a photo of the Wave House in Georgetown. I am pretty sure I went to some parties there back in the day.
posted by candyland at 8:09 PM on August 9, 2017


The auctioneer holding the Great Wave print is dressed with high art for the occasion, and the photographer got something too. The texture and indigo of her jacket, the white hyperbolic-plane suggestion of her neck ruffle, the movement of her hair, all echo the print like whoa.
posted by clew at 10:44 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


There's a Hokusai exhibition at the NGV in Melbourne currently. 70 or so prints, including the gallery's own great wave.
posted by wilful at 4:32 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


I live five minutes away from this mural and walk past it frequently. I had no idea it was based on a famous painting. Have enjoyed learning more about it - thanks for posting!
posted by Jacqulyn at 8:18 AM on August 10, 2017


I do remember the giant paper mache carrot that used to be on Camberwell Green.

Was this a Withnail and I thing?
posted by zamboni at 9:23 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've always liked the Great Wave of Pugs the most as a spoof, because I don't know can pugs even swim in general, and dog slobber in particular.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:22 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


The neatest thing I learned about the Great Wave was that, by choosing Prussian Blue, which was imported, Hokusai was possibly suggesting that the wave was the West, about to swamp the tiny Japanese boat, with Mt. Fuji ever so far away in the distance.
posted by musofire at 7:48 PM on August 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


Was this a Withnail and I thing?

Of course!
posted by memebake at 6:42 AM on August 13, 2017


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