Waves and clouds


Every so often it’s necessary for me to deploy some stylised Japanese graphics in a piece of art or illustration, an occasion which always prompts a laborious search through books or websites for suitable source material. Quite often what you require is an isolated example of a single motif, something that isn’t easy to find if you’re looking at a lot of detailed prints. The pages here are the kinds of thing I’ve been after for years, being a series of books showing the many ways an artist or craftsman might render flowing water, waves, ripples and clouds.


The books of waves by Yuzan Mori date from 1903, and are in three short volumes here, here and here. Mori’s drawings run through every possible style, from realistic linework to abstract tessellations. The books of clouds by Korin Furuya are in two volumes (also from 1903) here and here. Many of these are like the clouds you find in Chinese and Tibetan art but the books also feature one or two abstract suggestions which are strikingly advanced for the period. All of these books are from the Smithsonian Libraries whose archive of rare Japanese art books includes a Hokusai collection of 82 (!) volumes. Try this one for some vintage grotesquery and weirdness.




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