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KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI (1760-1849)
KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI (1760-1849)
KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI (1760-1849)
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KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI (1760-1849)
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KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI (1760-1849)

Kinoe no Komatsu (Pining for love)

Details
KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI (1760-1849)
Kinoe no Komatsu (Pining for love)
Woodblock-printed illustrated book; ink and color on paper, 3 volumes with blue paper covers with yellow title slip, signed Shiunan Ganko, published circa 1814
Fukurotojibon (puch binding); hanshibon: cover 8 ¾ x 6 1/8 in. (22.2 x 15.6 cm.); inner pages 8 ¾ x 5 ½ in. (22.2 x 14 cm.)
(3)

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Lot Essay

This set of three erotic books, first printed in 1814, is considered one of the best examples of shunga. Each volume contains 30 pages, starting with an okubi-e of a courtesan, rarely-seen among Hokusai's creations, followed by 7 double-pages of erotic scenes and concludes with a close-up depiction of genitalia.
Among these intense illustrations, the most well-known and ubiquitous image is Tako to ama (Octopus and Shell Diver). This image astounded western audiences upon its introduction to France in the late 19th century. People initially read the picture, without comprehending the accompanying text, as the octopi intertwined with a corpse laying among rocks. In Western mythologies, the octopus is sometimes regarded as an evil figure from the terrifying ocean, like the Kraken from Scandinavian folklore. Thus, this image was interpreted as a demonstration of sexual pleasure associated with the terror of death. The text as well as the girl's hand grasping the tentacle, however, suggest the diver being fully conscious and purely enjoying the ecstasy.
Other illustrations in the books also convey deep human lust regardless of gender and ethics. One such image depicts a violent scene in which a rice maker intends to rape a young girl. The perpetrator is portrayed as an ugly and filthy figure who could not arouse any joy to viewers. Nonetheless, the picture is so vivid that the strong and primitive desire the figure carries delivers to viewers firmitively before they make any moral judgement. The books manifest Hokusai's fertile imagination as well as the almost primal cultural atmosphere during the Edo Period. It was not until late 19th century when the Meiji government introduced and adopted the modern value – in other terms, the Western values – that the Edo culture, which impacted many great Japanese artists like Hokusai, started to diminish.

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