Analysis of The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai Essay

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Pages: 7

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai is a famous woodcut print that is commonly referred to as The Great Wave. Hokusai Katsushika was one of the greatest Japanese printmakers of the 19th century. The print, The Great Wave, is a part of a 36-piece series of the views of Japan’s most famous mountain; Mount Fuji. Hokusai’s series was very popular and sold rather quickly. Due to its popularity, Hokusai decided to extend the series to 46 pieces. The original piece was created around 1830 and was published in 1832 by Nishimuraya Yohachi. Within this paper, I will be discussing the analysis of this print while connecting my findings to the elements and principles of design. The lines within this print are dynamic and static. Dynamic lines are …show more content…
I spoke of gradation within my last paragraphs, so let’s start with balance. There are two types of balance: Symmetrical and asymmetrical. The balance within this picture is not symmetrical, but more asymmetrical. The print, if folded in half, would not mirror each other, therefore it is asymmetrical. You could say that this print has somewhat of a radial symmetry, the focal point being Mount Fuji. The curve of the giant wave creates a radial affect, drawing your eyes to the focal point. When you think of waves, you think of them constantly on an ebb and flow movement, back and forth, repeating the same motion. Repetition is seen throughout this picture, an example being the tips of the waves; all those detailed claw-like ripples about to crash down on the men in their boats; they all look very identical. The men in the boats are also repetitive, they all look exactly the same and are wearing the same garments. The water itself has the same repetitive pattern throughout, the stripes of darkest blue and a medium-shade blue. The next principle of design is contrast. Contrast can be created in various ways, such as size, color, and texture. This print does not have much texture, but the contrast between the deep sea-blue waves against the lightness of the sky causes a color contrast. There is also a slight contrast between the tops of the waves and the bottoms of the waves. The tops of the waves, closest to the sky, are stark white; the waves