Open now through February 7, 2010, the Indianapolis Museum of Art shares the culture and art of Japan with Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji. This Indianapolis museum shares eighteen of the thirty six woodblock paintings made by Utagawa Hiroshige in his series Thirty Six Views of Mt. Fuji. Share in the elegance and history of these images, which capture the majestic mountain from the perspective of this Japanese artist in the nineteenth century.
Mount Fuji was a part of daily life for citizens of the shogun’s capital of Edo. Visible from the eastern portions of the Tokaido Highway, the mountain seemed to link Edo with the ancient capital of Kyoto. As the subject of many Japanese painters’ inspiration, Mt. Fuji represents a connection to culture, history and heritage in the Japanese society. With a particular interest in nature, Utagawa Hiroshige depicts Mt. Fuji from many angles, from the violent crashing of the shore line against the immovable rock to its looming presence over the Japanese society.
Hiroshige joined a canon of Japanese artists to garner inspiration from the geographic landmark. Utagawa Hokusai produced the most well known and famous ukiyo-e series to focus on Mt. Fuji. In addition, he later produced One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji. The mountain is such a popular subject because of its cultural and religious significance. In an ancient Japanese story, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, a goddess placed the elixir of life at its peak. Seen as a source of immortality in Japanese culture, it is no wonder it acted as a muse for so many artists in the region.
You may recognize the single most famous image from any series on Mount Fuji as The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai, seen on above. But each image in the Thrity Six Views of Mount Fuji series by Hiroshige currently at the IMA has a depth and beauty of its own. Fan Print: Pine and Mt. Fuji (right) is perhaps one of Hiroshige’s most delicate images. With a simple pine tree rising before the great white mountain, Utagawa Hiroshige juxtaposes two equally dwarfing items from nature.The effect of such powerful subjects in a medium as delicate as a fan seems to make a statement about the interdependence of man and nature.
In Fuji on the left of Tokaido Road (left), Hiroshige uses color and light to create serenity. Two figures go about their daily lives, as the mountain looms over them. The entire population of Edo used the Tokaido Road regularly. Hiroshige presents an image of contentedness with his color scheme and uplifting lines. Imagine your morning commute in such an inspiring and beautiful place. In sharp contrast, Hiroshige creates a much darker depiction of Mt. Fugi in Yoshiwara (below). As the night descends, a lone figure on a horse stares longingly at the mountains. The sense is of a hard day at its end. The horse trudges one foot in front of another as the mortal ponders immortality. For more images from this Indianapolis art exhibit currently at the IMA, see the bottom of the page.
Each image was made through an elaborate process. Artists would draw an image on paper, which was used as a guide for cutting into a wood block. Then, the block was covered with ink and applied to paper, where the image was created. Hiroshige displays a complex use of color and line, which required highly evovled skills. The layering of colors is created through the use of a series of blocks, each hand carved to match the others.
Come see this Indianapolis art exhibit in the Indianapolis art galleries of the IMA. Utagawa Hiroshige finished the work just before his death in 1858. The images in the Circle City today were published just one year following his demise. As always, the IMA, a favorite Indianapolis attraction is free to all Indianapolis people. This Indianapolis event only lasts until February. See the stunning beauty of Japan through the eyes of a master. Its like taking a trip around the world in a single afternoon.
For more information about this and other exhibits at the IMA, visit their website. As the winner of one of the most prestigieous national awards for excellence in community service, the Indianapolis Museum of Arts has a mission to enhance Indianapolis culture. Each year they bring a handful of unique exhibits and present them for free to Hoosiers in Indy. Take advantage of the offerings from this fantastic Indianapolis nonprofit organization.
Take the whole family and introduce your Indianapolis kids to a piece of forigen culture in this great Indianapolis education opportunity. Continue the conversation over dinner at any of these great Indianapolis restaurants. Or consider the IMA for a date with a budget. The Indianapolis art galleries, like the Appel Gallery at the IMA, are always free, leaving plenty of left over cash for drinks at these great Indianapolis bars. Located just north of Indianapolis downtown and a mere hop skip and a jump away from the Indianapolis cultural district, Broad Ripple Village, the IMA is a convenient and fun Indy destination.
Utagawa Hiroshige’s Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji
Now through February 7, 2010
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