Ohara Koson “Monkey reaching for the Moon”

In this piece of art, the image depicted is of a monkey reaching into a pond hoping to grab the moon which is reflected in the surface of the pond. The artist is Ohara Koson, a Japanese painter and woodblock print designer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Ohara Koson was famous as a master of (bird-and-flower) designs. Throughout a prolific career, in which he created hundreds of prints, he went by three different titles: Ohara Hōson, Ohara Shōson and Ohara Koson. The image and the story behind the image is as such; a Buddhist story in which a monkey attempts to seize the reflection of a moon in a well; it fails when the branch from which it is hanging from breaks. The monkey stands for unenlightened people who cannot distinguish between reality and illusion. Also there is additional information that can be inferred through the image such as reflection and the use of light/dark in the art. The only two allusions and thus reflections found in the image are the monkeys face and the reflection of the moon, both white in contrast with the grays, browns and blacks of the surrounding area. In addition the image is unique and interesting to study/dissect because of the small finite details put into the monkeys fur and facial features.

Artist: Ohara Koson
Measurements:14 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches Dates from the late 1930’s to the first part of 1940

Sources: https://ukiyo-e.org/image/artelino/40905g1 https://artmuseum.princeton.edu/collections/objects/36448#:~:text=The%20image%20derives%20from%20a,distinguish%20between%20reality%20and%20illusion.

Author: Joseph Pimlott

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