Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hiroshige and Monet

I recently acquired a print of this image, Hiroshige's Mount Fuji seen across a wild sea, from 1858. When I was at art school I studied printmaking, and was made aware of these Japanese woodblock prints, championed by Hiroshige and Hokusai. My most favourite thing about them is the vivid blues used, and many people who have known me over the years will tell you that I have been obsessed by the colour blue.

Almost 10 years ago I got a half-sleeve tattoo inspired by Hokusai's Great wave of Kanagawa, just so that I could have that blue colour on my body for the rest of my days. It does mean that in order to preserve the colour and not have it go sailor's green, I am a slave to SPF 30 sunscreen!

In 2001 I did a month-long road trip through France, and visited the home of Claude Monet in Giverny. What an amazing treat, as Mr Monet was so inspired by the colours and compositions of these Japanese prints, that he amassed a collection of over 200 of them, all originals, displayed en masse throughout his home. You can see him below, in his dining room, which was painted the most sunny yellow with blue accents.

I daresay I am also obsessed by these images, though I am destined only to have copies; numerous books, cards, postcards and calendars. I pick them up all over the place, I once found a huge stash of postcards at the Met in New York, and ironically at Tokyo airport as I was about to fly home.

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