HOKUSAI: Beyond the Great Wave

Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) is widely regarded as one of Japan’s most famous and influential artists. He produced works of astonishing quality right up until his death at the age of 90.

 

Clear day with a southern breeze (‘Red Fuji’) from Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1831.

“From the age of six, I had a penchant for copying the form of things, and from about fifty, my pictures were frequently published; but until the age of seventy, nothing I drew was worthy of notice.”

Hokusai’s postscript to One Hundred Views of Mt Fuji, vol. 1, 1834.

 

Born in Edo (present-day Tokyo), Hokusai is best known for his woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji (c.1831) which includes the internationally renown The Great Wave off Kanagawa. It was this series, specifically The Great Wave print and Fine Wind, Clear Morning, that secured Hokusai’s fame both in Japan and overseas.

Under the wave off Kanagawa (The Great Wave) from Thirty-six views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1831.

This exhibition leads the visitor on an artistic journey through the last 30 years of Hokusai’s life – a time when he produced some of his most memorable masterpieces. Living in Edo with his daughter artist Ōi, Hokusai painted ceaselessly right up to his death.

Dragon in rain clouds. Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper, 1849.

Throughout the exhibition, outstanding examples of Hokusai’s work show the artist’s creative breadth and depth. A selection of superb landscapes is introduced with the iconic Great Wave; intimate domestic scenes capture fleeting moments in private lives; exquisite depictions of flora and fauna display an innate skill in representing the natural world. The artist’s imagination is given full rein in the portrayal of supernatural creatures such as ghosts and deities. All of these works give us an insight into Hokusai’s personal beliefs, spiritual and artistic quest of his later years.

The exhibition includes prints, paintings and illustrated books, many of which are on loan from Japan, Europe, and the USA. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these extraordinary works together.

HOKUSAI: Beyond the Great Wave
British Museum
Until August 13th

Supported by the Mitsubishi Corporation

 

 

 

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