Maruyama Cranes Analysis

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The piece I examined, titled Cranes, was created by the artist Maruyama Ōkyo in Japan, 1772. This piece is displayed in the LACMA Museum. Cranes consists of thin wood panel screens wrapped in gold leaf paper. Painted atop the gold leaf paper are twelve red-crowned cranes and five white-naped cranes with an acrylic type of paint. This piece stands on a cut portion of the wall, giving it the large scale of 6’0” tall by 24’0” wide estimated.
The whole piece is made of twelve tall rectangular panels that are connected at the 6th panel with a black metal that goes along the whole border. At the corners is a similar black metal clamp that makes the edges for the piece and have a swirled petal or leaf design. Making an interior border is a dark
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The Asian art building’s interior has a tall pillar in the center displaying the art. On the top floor, closest to the ceiling, is Maruyama’s artpiece. The light from the ceiling window makes the gold leaf glow, making the view at the base a gold sky for the cranes. Once reaching the top floor, they no longer appear to be cranes flying in a gold sky, but rather cranes living peacefully in their habitat. In Japanese culture, cranes are symbols of luck and long life, due to the belief that cranes live for thousands of years. The red-crowned cranes are a representation of the New Year, bringing good will and success. Maruyama Ōkyo was famous for not painting common backgrounds and known for capturing the essence of the animals. However, I personally feel like other than artistic style, the simple gold background represents more. In many cultures animals are depicted as gods, goddesses, or even deities, so many times they are paid tribute in forms of paintings. Since cranes are very respected, having the cranes in a gold surrounding makes it feel spiritual. As if the artist found this sacred ground belonging to all the cranes of fortune roaming freely and captured that beautiful moment in this painting. Many will see Cranes and believe the piece to be simple and meaningless. From the thick detailed scales, to the smooth strokes for each feather line, and the golden leaf empty background, each aids to create vast unique interpretations for this beautiful etherial

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